Shadow cabinet minister Rachel Reeves and parish council peacemaker Jackie Weaver were keynote speakers at the Intranational Women’s Day online conference hosted by Yeovil Labour Party. Rachel Reeves, shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has recently published “Women of Westminster”, a history of women in parliament. She highlighted the trail-blazing Chard-born Margaret Bondfield as one of the key figures. Labour MP Bondfield made history by becoming the first woman Privy Councillor and was Minister of Labour from 1929-1931 . Despite having little formal education, Bondfield also went on to become deputy leader of in the shopworkers union and was the first woman to chair the TUC General Council. Rachel Reeves also said “women MPs have been absolutely crucial in championing equal rights. I want to single out Barbara Castle, who delivered the Sex Discrimination Act (1970). In the past 100 years we have won more than its possible to list, but there is still a lot more to do. Even in parliament, women MPs are still more likely to face very serious on-line abuse and even death threats.
Jackie Weaver has the Authority
Jackie Weaver, the second keynote speaker, became an internet sensation when she imposed calm on the feuding male members of Hanforth Parish Council. In her role as the Chief Executive of the Cheshire Association of Parish Councils ,she spoke about the importance of genuinely local services, highlighting how smaller councils can make an immediate difference to the quality of people’s lives. Jackie Weaver also said “we need more women parish and town councillors, especially younger women. Most councils rely a bit too much on retired people. I urge you to get involved in local politics . You could start by watching some of their meetings, which are all taking place online at the moment. They may not be as exciting as Hanforth, but they will be making decisions about your local area.
Raising money for Breast Cancer unit
Yeovil Hospital Breast Cancer Unit Appeal voluntary fundraiser Katrina Parsons said: “ a new unit is needed because breast cancer services are currently spread across different parts of Yeovil hospital and some are only available by making the long journey to Taunton. An integrated unit would deliver better coordinated care and be more user-friendly for woman facing the stress of breast cancer. The appeal has so far raised £1.7 million (85%of the total cost). The Labour women’s day conference held an immediate online collection which raised £105 for the unit, and Labour promised further support later this year.
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More Young People
Daisy Carter, Labour’s youth representative for the South West said that the party needed more young people to stand in local government. She said , “we have done well in Bristol, where Labour will be standing many younger candidates for this year’s local council elections. I plan to bring together young Labour people throughout the South West later in the yea, to develop our network.
Join a Union
In the final session, Miriam Mirwitch, Jewish Labour Movement trade union officer, stressed that it was important for women to join a union. She said “where there are no unions in the workplace, too many employers can ignore even the minimum legal rights. Labour would seek to improve both the quality of rights at work and make them easier to enforce. Olivia Darling-Finan, Secretary of Yeovil Constituency Labour Party, said, “even though we have made real progress, women still earn less than men and are under- represented in the best-paid jobs. Labour will work to put this right. Rebecca Haselgrove, Yeovil Labour Party women’s officer, said “it is great to see women from all over Somerset joining together. Women have to juggle caring responsibilities with work, study and the other pressures of life. There is still a lot of work to be done before women are truly equal.
International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day has been celebrated on 8 March since 1914. It is a focus for campaigning
for women’s rights. It is widely celebrated throughout the world. The YCLP International women’s Day Conference This was held on Saturday 6 March. It was a zoom Conference that brought together Labour Party
women from all the Somerset parliamentary constituencies. Sessions were chaired by Olivia Darling-
Finan and Rebecca Haselgrove (YCLP secretary and women’s officer respectively)