Aspire vow 'to be progressive' after opponents raise women's representation

Aspire party's Kabir Ahmed storms home to win Weavers by-election

Aspire councillor Kabir Ahmed: "The forefront of our being is around women". - Credit: Mike Brooke

The first full council meeting in Tower Hamlets since May's local election saw a passionate discussion on women's representation.

The Aspire Party won a majority of councillors in last month's polling, taking 24 of the 45 council seats.

But none of the successful councillors were women and the issue of women's representation was raised in the council chamber on Wednesday, May 25.

Labour councillor Rachel Blake said she was "determined" to ensure the administration "takes the representation of women very seriously".

Cllr Blake, who represents Bow East, spoke about the borough's "proud" record of women's representation as far back as the 1888 Bow matchgirls strike.

She told the meeting: "Everyone on this side of the chamber takes that tradition to heart and make sure we stand up for that tradition.

"Every single Labour councillor will be making sure that proud history of women's representation is upheld in this chamber every single day."

Cllr Rachel Blake seconded the motion.

Cllr Rachel Blake told the meeting Tower Hamlets has a "proud" history of women's representation - Credit: Mike Brooke

She called on the administration to outline their plans on women's representation and women's rights.

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Cllr Kabir Ahmed, cabinet member for regeneration, said Aspire is happy to have women in its administration and was saddened that its female candidates were not elected.

He told the meeting he appreciated that the party only had three candidates but said Labour had more than 100 years "to reform itself and get a balance".

Cllr Ahmed said: "We want to be progressive, we want to look forward. 

"The forefront of our being is around women and we will be working actively to promote women in the workforce."

Amina Ali, also a Labour ward councillor for Bow East, told councillors she was disheartened about the lack of women elected to represent Aspire.

"That saddens me because that means the women in this borough and the diverse women who have experience and have much to bring to political office are not represented by the party that sits opposite us (Aspire)," she said.

Cllr Amina Ali... "Being asked to register after living here for years can seem insensitive or distr

Cllr Amina Ali said she was "saddened" by Aspire having no female councillors - Credit: Mike Brooke

"For me, a better democracy is a democracy where women not only have the right to vote but be elected and hold political office.

"The Labour Party has always championed women both as activists and also in holding political office."

The meeting also saw Cllr Shafi Ahmed elected as speaker and appointments made to council committees.