School pupils and Jackie Weaver will join International Women's Day events in Wigan
Influential female leaders – including local democracy internet sensation Jackie Weaver – will spearhead Wigan Council’s International Women’s Day plans.
A week-long programme will include a discussion panel of local role models, focussed on sharing the "choose to challenge" message.
Working alongside community groups and local organisations, the council hopes to showcase the principles of IWD to inspire all women, particularly young people.
The schedule starts on Monday, which is International Women's Day, and culminates with a panel discussion on Friday, March 12.
Coun Paula Wakefield, the council's lead member for equalities, said: “International Women’s Day is marked across the world to encourage movement towards equality.
“This year the theme internationally is #ChooseToChallenge, encouraging everyone to address the barriers that might stand in the way of potentially successful women and it’s so important that we acknowledge that.
“Some people believe that women do now have equality but there is a lot still to be achieved.
“In some countries laws actually discriminate against women and even here in Wigan borough you can still find examples of discrimination and gender bias.”
Jackie Weaver chief officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, found herself at the centre of a social media storm recently after a meeting of Handforth Parish Council.
She will join the online panel of female business and community leaders.
Also on the panel will be the council's chief executive Alison Mckenzie-Folan, CCG director of primary care Linda Scott, Wigan and Leigh College principal Anna Dawe, local business owners and community group founders, and women from Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet.
Hosted by BBC presenter and actor Victoria Cook, the event will discuss obstacles women face today when making career decisions and debate how to drive change.
Coun Wakefield added: “Women statistically earn less than men, are more likely to be in part-time job roles which offer less opportunities for progression, and take on the majority of household work and childcare responsibilities.
“Our current ways of working don’t always offer the flexibility that women need to accommodate the additional responsibilities they have and of course there’s the question of why responsibilities aren’t more equally divided in many households.
“Other barriers to women’s progression in business include outdated organisational cultures in some settings, which favour male progression, and sexual harassment and bullying, which we know from the #MeToo movement is unfortunately still a serious problem.
“I’m really looking forward to being able to take the time to discuss some of these issues this week and look at how we can create equal opportunities for all.”
Pupils from St George’s CE Primary School in Tyldesley will feature in videos on the council’s social media channels, where they will discuss if there are still "girls’ jobs" and "boys’ jobs" and what their own career aspirations are.
Children will be encouraged to make dream catchers to represent their hopes for the future and to hang them on designated "dream trees" in five of the borough’s parks - Mesnes Park, Wigan, Walmesley Park, Ince, Lilford Park, Leigh, Three Sisters recreation ground, Bryn and Elnup Woods in Shevington.
To be part of the audience for the panel event, which runs from 6pm to 7pm on Friday, March 12, reserve a place hereFollow the events during the week on the council's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
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