Tributes paid to suffragettes but more needs to be done, county council told

Female members of the county council wearing suffragette rosettes. Picture: WSCC

As we mark 100 years since suffragettes won the first votes for women, one county councillor says more is yet needed to make female voices heard.

Kirsty Lord told West Sussex County Council on Friday: “It is a real delight for me that on this 100th anniversary I am here, elected and about to move a motion that could help more women like me.”

Councillor Kirsty Lord paid tribute to the suffragettes as she put forward her motion on women in politics. Picture: WSCC Webcast

She told councillors she wanted to ‘do justice to the Pankhursts of my home city of Manchester, the Fawcetts of Rustington and the many other women who fought for our rights 100 years ago and have done so ever since’.

Mrs Lord – councillor for Hassocks and Burgess Hill South – asked the council to look into barriers women face in becoming councillors.

Her motion was referred to the local governance committee for discussion.

After the meeting she spoke of challenges she faced in becoming a councillor: “I have got three children. I was a bit nervous about how that would all fit in.

The full council wearing rosettes. Picture: WSCC

“It struck me then that that probably was a step that stopped a lot of women in particular, but probably anyone with a young family.”

Mrs Lord, a consultant for the pharmaceutical industry, said it is no easy task balancing council meetings with her job and home life.

“I rely very heavily on my family. I have in-laws that who live close by and my husband can be flexible with his work.”

She pointed out that many people might not have the same support network.

Mrs Lord, the youngest woman on the council at 41, said she wonders if older members of the council do not consider these factors.

In terms of numbers of women in politics, Mrs Lord said West Sussex is doing ‘better than some’, but that more could be done.

“There is more than three years to the 2021 elections so there is time for the council to look at if there are things that it can do to make it more attractive for women.”

Council leader Louise Goldsmith also marked the courage of suffragettes at the meeting: “Across the country only 17 per cent of council leaders are women, so I find myself in a rare minority.

“We all know there is more to be achieved and it is thanks to the bravery, the determination and the feistiness of those suffragettes who stood up and stood out for equality with votes for women.

“Today I wear this suffragette rosette with pride. To all those suffragettes wherever you are now, a huge, huge thank you.”

Read more: At the same meeting, the county council approved a rise in council tax.

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