Women members of Hackney Council’s Labour Group have a lot to celebrate this International Women’s Day!

Hackney’s women politicians are achieving in a way never seen before.  Women currently occupy both the Deputy Mayor posts, they outnumber men in Mayor Phillip Glanville’s Cabinet and the borough has a woman Speaker (civic mayor) of the Council.

 * In the photo (L-R): Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for employment and skills, Cllr Feryal Demirci, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for health, social care transport and parks, Cllr Caroline Selman, Cabinet Member for community safety, policy and voluntary sector, Cllr Clare Potter, Speaker (civic mayor) London Borough of Hackney, Cllr Penny Wrout, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for education and young people.

At the most recent by-election, in Victoria Ward, the popular vote placed women candidates first, second and third.  The seat was won by Labour’s Penny Wrout, and when she took her place in the Council Chamber it balanced the Labour Group, which is now made up of 26 women and 26 men councillors – for the first time in its history.

“It’s an optimistic sign to have achieved gender parity in the Labour Group’, says Penny Wrout, Hackney’s newest councillor.   “International Women’s Day is a moment to reflect on what women have achieved and the special qualities we can bring to public life.”

She went on: “In Hackney we’re blazing a trail.  Our two MPs and our GLA representative are all women and, in my ward, we now have three women councillors.

“It’s a strong message to young women who want to make the world a better place, showing it is possible to get involved in politics and make change happen.”

The women councillors aren’t only keen to celebrate what’s being achieved in political life.  Overall, women employees of the London Borough of Hackney are paid more than men, so unusually, the gender pay gap favours women.

Cllr Carole Williams, the Cabinet member for employment and skills, which includes the equalities, leads on delivering on ambitious plans to embed equalities in all the council’s work.

She says: “Hackney is a Timewise accredited council,  promotes a diverse workforce through its inclusive leadership programme, and is committed to identify and understand the ethnicity pay gap, not yet required by law.

“The corporate apprenticeship programme, Hackney 100, and the supported employment programme are our election manifesto commitments to improve training, and create jobs and opportunities for Hackney residents – we are committed to equipping residents with the skills and experience they need to succeed in a competitive labour market.”

Another member of the Hackney Cabinet, Cllr Rebecca Rennison, has responsibility for tackling domestic abuse and is also reaching out to younger people.

Her team is working hard to get the message out that women have a right to expect respect too, promoting the idea of healthy relationships.

She comments: “Hackney Council works with schools in the borough to help young people understand healthy relationships and to know that they can seek help if something is not right.

“It is vital that we intervene at the earliest opportunity to prevent domestic abuse and particularly at the point young people are having their first experience of relationships.”

So, while Hackney’s Labour women see there is no room for complacency, as shown by the #MeToo movement’s work to highlight gender discrimination, in the borough there is also a positive story to tell about women in public life and how to make things even better for future generations.

* The council has ambitious plans:

  • “Tackling Inequality” has been the first of five Mayoral priorities for Hackney’s Mayor since he was elected in 2016 and is embedded in all our work through the single equality scheme
    are delivered and residents are engaged.
  • Hackney Council has been a Timewise Accredited Council since October 2015
  • Through the emerging inclusive growth strategy, Hackney Council has an ambitious programme of work underway to bridge the gap between our Hackney residents and business and to connect local communities to the opportunities that are being created in the local economy.

Hackney Council is promoting a diverse workforce through its inclusive leadership programme

Last year Cllr Williams committed the council to identifying and understanding the ethnicity pay gap – not yet required by law

  • Our Employment and Skills service was expanded in 2016 to deliver on our electoral commitment to improve training, create jobs and opportunities. We are doing this through:
    • Hackney Works: support for unemployed and under-employed Hackney residents to find quality employment and provides employment support.
    • The corporate apprenticeship programme and the newly launched Hackney Apprenticeship Network
    • Hackney 100 which offers meaningful, paid work experience to Hackney 16-19 year olds

Supported Employment: support for residents with mental health issues and learning difficulties

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