‘We must appreciate the challenge women faced to get this basic right’

Pictured at the launch of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council's Ladies' Group are Deputy Mayor Hazel Legge (right) with Councillor Rhoda Walker, Councillor Janet Gray MBE, LCCC Chief Executive Dr Theresa Donaldson and Councillor Amanda Grehan.
Pictured at the launch of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council's Ladies' Group are Deputy Mayor Hazel Legge (right) with Councillor Rhoda Walker, Councillor Janet Gray MBE, LCCC Chief Executive Dr Theresa Donaldson and Councillor Amanda Grehan.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has formed a Ladies’ Group to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918.

On February 6 100 years ago the UK Parliament passed a law allowing the first women (over 30) and all men (over 21) to vote for the first time.

To celebrate this milestone in UK democracy, the local authority officially launched its Ladies’ Group, comprising female elected members and council Chief Executive Dr Theresa Donaldson, along with an exciting programme of activities for 2018.

The group - thought to be the first of its kind set up by a council in Northern Ireland - is being led by Deputy Mayor Hazel Legge.

“Voting in today’s society can be taken for granted but reflecting on the changes that took place a century ago we must appreciate the challenge that women faced then to get this basic right,” she said.

“The aim of our Ladies’ Group is to celebrate this landmark, but also educate young people on its significance to where we are today.”

Cllr Legge continued: “It is also 100 years since the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was introduced, allowing women to become MPs. It was truly a momentous year, not only for women but for democracy in general. With eight female elected members on our council and a female Chief Executive we are keen to explore the role of women in political and public life and the valued contribution we make.

“Throughout 2018 we will be engaging with local stakeholders such as NILGA, local government associations, community groups, schools and key influencers to honour the women who fought hard for the rights we have today.

“I feel very fortunate to be in a position where we can highlight all the good work that has been done and hope to inspire good work to be carried out in the future.”

Speaking at the launch, Dr Donaldson commented: “I would like as many people as possible to get involved in our programme of activities. We will be working across central and local government to deliver events and initiatives that will encourage young women to become strong leaders both in political and public life. There are so many inspirational women in our area who are a great example to everyone and we will work right across the community in driving positive messages of equality and power.”

The programme of activities will commence with a celebratory event on March 7, details of which will be announced shortly.

To keep up-to-date with other events taking place across the UK to celebrate the Centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 log on to www.parliament.uk/get-involved/vote-100