44% of Labour Councillors in Southampton are Women
Southampton has produced many notable female campaigners: (Sarah) Emily Davies (1830-1921) campaigned for women’s access to education and founded Girton College in Cambridge; Lucia Foster Welch (1864-1940) was elected as Southampton’s first female Councillor in 1918 (the year some women got the vote) and then went on to be the first female Sheriff Mayor, Admiral of the Port and JP in Southampton as well!
One hundred years on, we have many more women contributing to public life, 32% of the UK Parliament and more women in key positions across many sectors and of course Councillors.
After the recent local election, which saw more female Labour Councillors elected, Sue Blatchford, a long-standing Councillor in Southampton and currently Councillor for Woolston and Chair of Licensing commented 'I am proud to be one of the 44% in this important centenary year of women's suffrage and the year that women were first allowed to stand as an MP'.
The Labour Party now has 11 female Councillors out of a total of 25 (Sue Blatchford, Sarah Bogle, Hannah Coombs, Lorna Fielker, Satvir Kaur, Cathie McEwing, Sharon Mintoff, Lisa Mitchell, Frances Murphy, Jacqui Rayment and Sarah Taggart). Two (Sue and Cathie) have held the role of Sheriff and Mayor, three (Jacqui, Satvir and Sarah B) have held or hold Cabinet roles, and several have taken on key leadership roles in the Council, for example chairing key committees.
Sarah Bogle said 'We want to be representative of the people we serve; it is important that people see that those who are elected to office look like them. The Labour Group is diverse, talented, from a wide age range and brings much experience from all walks of life.’
Satvir Kaur said ‘we want to see more women get involved whether it is through their community, the Council or the Labour Party. We want to see talent from all backgrounds succeed and one route is to be elected to serve your local community.'
The two newest female recruits to the Labour Group are Lorna Fielker and Lisa Mitchell: Lorna said 'I have worked in Housing and other sectors and am looking forward to the challenge and responsibility this new role brings'. Lisa commented 'it was noticeable how much more diverse our side of the Council Chamber was last week, it really brought home how important it is to get greater diversity into politics'.
There are 3 other female Councillors in Southampton, 1 Independent and 2 Conservative out of a potential total of 23 which brings the total percentage of female Councillors in Southampton to 29%. Hopefully it won't take another 100 years to get equal representation in our important local democracy.