Two Sue-tors who have women on their political agenda
Two councillors from opposite ends of the political spectrum are forming an alliance – to encourage more women into local politics.
Currently Tory Councillor Sue Arnold and Labour’s Sue Woodward find themselves facing one another in Lichfield District Council’s chamber.
But the two Sues are casting their differences aside to promote the annual International Women’s Day (IWD), which falls on next Thursday (March 8).
And to prove a point they dressed in the opposing colours of their political affiliation – Sue Arnold in red and Sue Woodward in blue – to show they are “at one” in their cause celebre.
“We want local people to come into politics, regardless of their affiliation. I can remember a time when there were more men with the name John in the House of Commons than women in parliament,” said Cllr Woodward, the district council member for Chase Terrace who twice unsuccessfully bid to be an MP when the Lichfield constituency was redefined in 1997 and again for the Cannock seat in the 2010 general election.
IWD, in its 37th year, encourages governments, organisations, charities and women’s groups around the world to adopt a different annual theme that reflects global and local gender issues. This year it’s empowering local women.
“We are taking on board the mantra of International Women’s Day that by effectively increasing the impact of women on public life at all levels, the potential for change towards gender equality and empowerment of women and a more democratic and just society is increased,” added Mease & Tame member Cllr Arnold.
In Lichfield almost a third of the 56 members on the authority are women. “But although more than half the population of the UK is female – much less than half are in a position of responsibility in public life,” added Cllr Woodward.
The two women, who both won seats in the district council elections of 2011, do like to sit together when they sit on the same committees.
“We may be from different sides of political divide – but we hit it off instantly” added Cllr Arnold.
And the final word from her political ‘foe’, Councillor Woodward: “Local politics is on the majority of occasions agreement regardless of which party you belong to – and it is about putting what’s best for local communities above all else”.