Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Hazel Legge, recently invited local female senior school pupils to Lagan Valley Island for special event to mark 100 years of the Representation of the People Act.
An all-female council group was set up in February this year to plan activities marking the 100th anniversary of the Act, which saw the first women (over 30 years and all men over 21 years) permitted to vote.
The Lord Lieutenant for Co Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE with the High Sheriff for Co Antrim, Miss Gillian Bingham, joined the Deputy Mayor and Chief Executive, Dr Theresa Donaldson with the senior school pupils and female teachers from Fort Hill Integrated College, Lagan College and Laurelhill Community College.
Seats were taken up in the council chamber side-by-side with female elected members of council who had come to meet the pupils and participate in the event.
Councillor Legge provided a presentation on the history of the vote for women, key landmarks and challenges for the rights women have today, and said: “It is important to remember and to mark significant events in history, like this centenary and the women who campaigned for the vote for all of us, often at a high personal price.
“I would like to express grateful thanks to Mrs Joan Christie our Lord Lieutenant who spoke so engagingly about taking opportunities in life, supporting people and about wellbeing.
“The High Sheriff, Gillian Bingham, who has a background in health, provided a very interesting account of past humanitarian work in Africa and she shared some experiences in working across cultures with the aim of helping people and to improve the lives of women.”
Cllr Legge continued: “There was discussion around the importance of charitable efforts and education to help women in under developed countries. Our own Councillor Janet Gray MBE spoke about her work as an Ambassador for Concern Worldwide and on fundraising efforts to help women and children in parts of Africa.
“I certainly heard things I didn’t know beforehand and I hope the young women found the discussions and personal accounts as interesting as I did. The pupils were a credit to their teachers and the school and I hope they enjoyed the morning.”
Dr Theresa Donaldson, council Chief Executive, said: “There is no doubt that the 100 years since the Representation of the People Act has seen huge strides across society and changes for women in society.
“Today a history of a very important time and journey was provided and marked. The personal accounts of our speakers who very kindly came along today really made the morning special.
“I was really pleased to see representatives of our local schools, possible future leaders, sitting side by side with our female elected members discussing this important subject in our council chamber.”