Today marks 100 years since women in the United Kingdom were first given the vote.
To celebrate The Observer has asked a collection of influential local leaders what the anniversary means to them.
Arun District Council chairman Jacky Pendleton shares her thoughts...
The 100 year anniversary of the Suffragette movement has a very personal meaning to me. My paternal grandmother, who lived latterly in Aldwick, was a Suffragette. She was also a Mathematics teacher (woe betide you if you called it Maths), and she was a very strong and overtly opinionated woman. Having said that, she also taught me to sew and cook.
My own character and the way I’ve developed through life has probably been highly influenced by my grandmother. I have always been a very independent person with strong views, who enjoys a challenge and very rarely steers away from difficult situations, difficult discussions and difficult decisions. I’ve always voted, believing that women fought for that right to express our point of view.
Personally, I have risen through business to manage at a senior level in an area of the airline industry which was dominated by men – the air cargo business. I was brought up to believe that I had equal rights to everyone else. I held on to that belief under sometimes challenging situations with my mostly male counterparts and trade union representatives, but I also stood alongside them when that was the right thing to do. I’ve always decried bullying and domination, particularly if it was because I was a woman in a man’s environment.
Local government is much more female friendly, and I enjoy equal status both in Arun District Council and in West Sussex County Council – my grandmother would have been proud to see how far politics have gone in listening to and responding to women’s ideas as well as to men’s.
The suffragette movement was successful in allowing subsequent generations of women to seize opportunity and flourish. Next, we must continue to ensure that women are paid equally for their efforts but also that they don’t feel they have to succumb to sexual predators just to succeed in their chosen career.