Mike Amesbury, MP for Weaver Vale, has paid tribute to female heroes past and present in his constituency as the country marks International Women’s Day today (8th March).
International Women’s Day commemorates the movement for women’s rights and is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
Mike singled out Harriet Shaw Weaver from Frodsham, who was one of the original suffragettes, a political activist and a magazine editor, born in the town in 1876.
She was also one of the earliest patrons of legendary writer James Joyce, whose work she serialised in her magazine The Egoist, when nobody else would publish it.
Mike also cited suffragist Barbara Ayrton-Gould who stood in three consecutive general elections from 1924.
In 1929 she lost out by just 4 votes when running for election in Runcorn, which was at that point part of the Northwich constituency.
She was a full time organiser with the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and served time in prison for smashing store windows.
She went on to become chair of the Labour Party in 1939-40 and afterwards became MP for Hendon North in the 1945 landslide.
As such she was the only WSPU organiser to have gone from prison to Parliament.
The latest generation of young women blazing a trail in Cheshire is Jess Leigh, the representative for Cheshire West and Chester in the UK Youth Parliament.
The 16-year-old from Northwich attends St Nicholas Catholic High School in Mike’s constituency.
Last year Jess joined the rest of the UK Youth Parliament in the House of Commons to discuss citizenship education – known as ‘curriculum for life’ – and votes at 16, a campaign to lower the voting age from 18 to 16.
Mike commented: “My constituency has a proud history of producing formidable women who have helped to drive forward political change in this country.
“International Women’s Day is a date where we not only mark the progress women have made in making great strides towards equality, but crucially, also remember how much progress we still have yet to make as a society.”
IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons image of Barbara Ayrton-Gould dressed as Grace Darling to promote the WSPU Women’s exhibition, in May 1909.