2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the first woman taking her seat in the UK Parliament. There is much for women to celebrate since Nancy Astor’s momentous accomplishment, and what better occasion than International Women’s Day on Friday 8th March this week.
Women’s employment is at 71% - a near record high, and the gender pay gap (whilst still too high) is at an all-time low. We also have more women on the boards of our largest companies than ever before. That is good news for business because gender balanced boards are known to make more ethical, more sustainable, more profitable, lower risk decisions. We also have more women in positions of leadership in our country with, for example: a female Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, a woman Presiding over our Supreme Court and, of course, a (second) female Prime Minister.
But it is not just on the national stage where women are in positions of prominence. International Women’s Day also provides the perfect opportunity to thank and pay tribute to the many inspiring female community leaders in Maidstone and the Weald.
From the CEO of Maidstone Borough Council, to the Headteachers of many of our schools, to the Editor of this very publication; women are responsible for delivering our public services, educating our young people and reporting our local news. That is something to be celebrated. In addition, it is so apt that, on International Women’s Day, I will congratulate a number of new female Police Officers at their passing out parade before they take up the beat in Maidstone.
This enormous progress in our community, and across the country, is hugely welcome and now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal. We must continue to provide more opportunities for women with aspiration and seek true balance in gender equality - because when courageous women join with enlightened men, there is little that cannot be achieved.