Barking and Dagenham to establish pioneering ‘women’s equality charter’

Female sewing machinsists at the Ford Plant in Dagenham (Pic: PA Archive/Press Association Ima)

Female sewing machinsists at the Ford Plant in Dagenham (Pic: PA Archive/Press Association Ima) - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Barking and Dagenham is set to become the first borough in the country to introduce a women and gender equality charter, with a strong emphasis on ensuring women’s empowerment.

Ford strikers Gwen Davis and Sheila Douglass (l - r) were invited to the Women of the World summit w

Ford strikers Gwen Davis and Sheila Douglass (l - r) were invited to the Women of the World summit with their former colleagues, Eileen Pullen and Vera Sime recently - Credit: Archant

Drawing on the area’s feminist heritage, the move would aim to make sure women have the same chances to succeed as men in the area.

The council are asking residents to say what they would like the charter to contain, and hope to launch it early next year.

“It will, I hope, be a set of promises from the council, local businesses and residents that genuinely improves gender equality as a whole and specifically improves the life chances and opportunities for women,” said council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell.

“I am very proud of this borough’s history in women’s rights. From [18th-century writer and women’s rights advocate] Mary Wollstonecraft to the women of the suffragette movement who used to meet at the Three Lamps, to the Ford machinists who fought for equal pay.

Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft - Credit: Archant


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“I therefore think it’s vitally important that we continually assess gender equality to ensure women are empowered and treated equally in every sense.”

A questionnaire is available on the council’s website until Saturday, November 7, with the results being used to create themes to underpin the charter.

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It is hoped that the charter will launch in March next year, which Barking and Dagenham Council has devoted to Women’s Empowerment Month.

In addition, a range of public meetings and focus groups will taking place throughout this month, as well as work with the voluntary and business sector.

Cllr Afolasade Bright, the council’s champion for women and equalities, said: “I am thrilled to have taken up this new role and the fact it coincides with this very important piece of work couldn’t be more perfect.

“It’s really important that residents help us to determine what action needs to be taken to ensure a person’s gender does not determine their life chances. I would urge everyone to complete the online survey or attend an event.”

For more information or to complete the survey visit barking-dagenham.limehouse.co.uk/portal

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