International Women’s Day is as relevant as ever

This week we will once again celebrate International Women’s Day – and with events across the city, we are reminded of the rich struggle for women’s equality in Brighton and Hove.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 10:00 am
Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, convenor of the Green Group on Brighton & Hove City Council

Marking the centenary of some women first being granted the right to vote, I was honoured to attend the unveiling of a blue plaque for Minnie Turner last November. A local suffragette, Minnie set up a safe haven for women recovering from spells in prison as part of the ‘votes for women’ campaign.

Last year, Greens pushed for the site of the main suffragette organisation, Brighton’s Women’s Social and Political Union, to be recognised with a blue plaque and supported the call for funding for a statue of fellow suffragette Mary Clarke.

Yet just as we look to the past we are reminded that International Women’s Day is as relevant as ever. According to the Trades Union Congress, it will take another 55 years for men and women to achieve equal pay. Reports on the impact of Conservative Government austerity show that cuts to public services disproportionately affect women in the UK. Across the world, only a quarter of all national parliamentarians are female and at local council level women are still under-represented.

The theme for this year is ‘Balance for Better’ – a call to improve gender balance across the world. Greens have been pushing the city council to do more to improve the representation of women in political life. Our work means that the council will now implement policies that improve women’s participation – from the introduction of maternity and paternity leave; greater engagement with black and minority ethnic groups and training to tackle discrimination. As we push to ‘balance for better,’ we look forward to sharing how we can build on these commitments as part of our manifesto launch next week.

Deep-rooted discrimination against women still exists in all levels of society and across the world and we must challenge it wherever it occurs. I thank the many fantastic women throughout Brighton and Hove for their role in reminding me that the struggle for women’s equality continues.