International Women's Day: How women are embracing equity in Worcestershire - The Evesham Observer

International Women's Day: How women are embracing equity in Worcestershire

Evesham Editorial 8th Mar, 2023   0

WOMEN in Worcestershire are leading the way in showing how #EmbraceEquity – the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day today (Wednesday, March 8).

Over the last couple of years Ruby Edwards from You Do Better PR has written together with local business women who live and work in and around Worcestershire to share the positive sentiment of International Women’s Day.

Welcoming a day to celebrate ‘International Women’s Day’ and the positive sentiment it brings, 2023 words for reflection come from Sharon Smith, CEO of the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce as well as Detective Inspector Liz Warner from West Mercia Police and Mandie Fitzgerald CEO at Headway Worcestershire are brought together to celebrate the nationally recognised day.

Mandie Fitzgerald (Headway, Worcestershire), Sharon Smith (Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce) and Liz Warner (West Mercia Police) embrace equity on International Women’s Day 2023.

Sharon says: “I strive to #EmbraceEquity. I don’t always get everything right, but ensuring Equity is at the top of the business agenda is hugely important to me and to most businesses.

“The first step is recognising that we still exist in a world where not everything or everyone is equal, and open conversations about inequalities should be part of our ongoing learning and development, in order to improve.

“That’s why I’m pleased to support and embrace International Women’s Day 2023 – where there is still inequality, there should always still be a conversation.”

That said, last Wednesday Sgts Chloe Jones and Danielle Keay were out on bike patrol and tweeted a selfie, reassuring the public that they were out on visible patrol.

In two days, the tweet received 406 comments and 19 shares.

In comparison, a similar tweet showing two male colleagues patrolling on bikes three weeks ago attracted 25 comments, and just three shares.

Positively there were lots of responses from the public calling this behaviour out.

Det Insp Liz Warner states: “It is our responsibility as a police organisation to ensure that women and girls are safe and feel safe in West Mercia. It is also our responsibility to ensure that our own staff feel valued and are respected for the amazing work they do.”

For that reason, West Mercia Police deleted the abusive tweets and posted the following comment:

“Our female officers are daughters, sisters, mothers and partners – they are doing a tough job – please remember that and think about how you would like members of your own family to be spoken about.

“Many thanks to everyone who has been shocked by the comments and taken a stance in defending our officers. We appreciate it very much.”

West Mercia Police vow to continue to confront misogyny inside and outside of the organisation

Liz continues: “The comments from many members of the public were absolutely disgusting. I want to our reputation and the media to reflect the brave, caring, hardworking women that we are.

“We have a strong women’s network in West Mercia Police (called ‘Women of West Mercia’ / WoW), being 380 members strong (17per cent of our female workforce), and we work closely with the other staff networks including HeForShe, who are part of a global United Nations led group of males in senior positions throughout organisations who are asked to use their platforms to speak out and drive change with us.”

This week, WoW and HeForShe are organising an internal conference to mark International Women’s Day.

The team will be highlighting misogynistic behaviours, discussing how they can – as individuals and an organisation – tackle misogyny, and the afternoon will be spent celebrating the work of our female international colleagues.

In September, Liz and the team were joined by friends from Fire and Rescue, Women Who Worcestershire and the Soroptimists to plant 2,100 crocus bulbs in the hope that they will flower in time for International Women’s Day. Why 2,100?

That’s how many female staff and officers there are in West Mercia Police and each one of deserves recognition.

Liz’s words are echoed by Mandie Fitzgerald, CEO at Headway Worcestershire, says: “International Women’s Day is a great way to showcase the wonderful women we work with at Headway Worcestershire. From the team in the office to our outreach workers, trustees and, of course, our magical clients.

“We embrace equity every day, although welcome every chance to reduce the gender gap.”

One final thought – Whether we embrace the concept of International Women’s Day or not, it does provide a focus to forge forward in making an impact on equity and women are embracing every bit of making that change.

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