‘We must remember the aim for equality is not done yet’

FORWARD-THINKING Jackie Branson, who represents St Faith's ward in Havant
FORWARD-THINKING Jackie Branson, who represents St Faith's ward in Havant

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THE 100th anniversary of suffragette Emily Davison throwing herself in front of the king’s horse has recently been acknowledged and although women got the vote 80 years ago they are still woefully under represented in all areas of elected government.

Only 28.9 per cent of the councillors on Havant Borough Council are women.

In the UK, 32 per cent of councillors are women, but only 12.3 per cent are council leaders. Havant does have a woman chief executive. Why are women still not putting themselves forward for election? Are they being selected when they do? Although it is true that finding people from both sexes to come forward as prospective councillors is difficult, we certainly need to encourage more women.

Being a councillor is an immensely interesting and rewarding job. The job of a councillor has two aspects, firstly you represent the residents of your ward but also the strategic aims of the council.

There can be a conflict of interests when residents are very vocal against a large planning application but there is desperate need for more housing locally. There are a number of women involved with the local community and resident associations and we need more of them to put their names forward.

It is not something you do for the money. A backbencher on Havant Borough gets an allowance of £5,350 and for the hours they do that is well below the minimum wage! Despite what some people believe there are no brown envelopes!

Recently I was privileged to meet Dr Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmilene Pankhurst, who acknowledged the legacy of the suffragettes but fundamentally accepted the need to remember that the job is not yet done.