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Women councillors recall their own Tower Hamlets manifesto and the suffragettes on International Women's Day

PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:38 11 March 2019

Launch of Tower Hamlets women's manifesto in March, 2018. Picture: Mike Brooke

Launch of Tower Hamlets women's manifesto in March, 2018. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Women have marked the first anniversary of their own manifesto for Tower Hamlets Council with a 'Balance for Better' campaign on Women's International Day.

Women councillors launch 'balance for better' campaign on first anniversary of their own election manifesto. Picture: LBTHWomen councillors launch 'balance for better' campaign on first anniversary of their own election manifesto. Picture: LBTH

The first year has already seen the local authority adopt policies including a ‘Violence Against Women’ charter in November to lobby the government to make misogyny a hate crime and a ‘parental’ leave to encourage a better balance in the council chamber.

The council has also campaigned for the government to fund domestic violence refuges in the face of closures and an employment scheme to get women into work or training which has now helped 2,000 to find jobs.

There are now 19 women councillors out of 41, including 18 Labour and one Lib Dem.

“I’m determined to make the East End a better place for women,” deputy mayor for equalities Asma Begum said. “We’re putting the idea of ‘better balance’ into practice through things like the ‘tackling violence against women’ charter and getting women into the labour market.”

The 2018 local election that returned Tower Hamlets Labour council with a women's manifesto. Picture: Mike BrookeThe 2018 local election that returned Tower Hamlets Labour council with a women's manifesto. Picture: Mike Brooke

Councillors have used this year’s Women’s International Day to promote ‘balance’ and equality representing the East End’s growing population at the town hall.

Another woman deputy mayor, Rachel Blake, said: “Local government is responsible for many services which women disproportionately depend on. Women disproportionately work in local government and schools.”

The East End has a rich heritage of woman campaigning for equality, from the suffragettes who set up their headquarters in Bow at the beginning of the last century and the women philanthropists during the 1920s and 30s to the more-recent campaign protests against Jack the Ripper stereotyping backed by Tower Hamlets’ mayor and the Bishop of Stepney.

The heritage has led to the first women’s political manifesto of any local authority in London.

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