A huge chorus of female voices is bidding to help make Leeds truly woman friendly.
Hundreds of women working in a variety of fields gathered at Leeds Civic Hall for a unique summit examining the past, present and future of the city’s journey to gender equality.
Centenary Cities: 100 Years of Votes for Women celebrated the Representation of the People Act 1918 - which allowed some women to vote for the first time.
The event also featured a series of round the table discussions about the key challenges women and girls in the city still face - and gave them the opportunity to help to shape the city’s future.
The packed Banqueting Suite heard about the experiences and challenges of women in all sectors, with safety, the disproportionately high impact on women of welfare reform and austerity, domestic violence support and mental health provision all featuring prominently.
The findings of the discussions will now form the basis of an action plan being put together by Women’s Lives Leeds, a four year project launched last year to help make Leeds a woman-friendly city,
After the main event, three mini ‘challenge’ events will take place in communities, aiming to provide a further platform for women and girls to meet their local leaders, influence service delivery and to be empowered to register to vote.
Keynote speakers at today’s summit included leader of the council Judith Blake, Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves and Superintendent Sam Millar of West Yorkshire Police.
Coun Blake said that as well as commemorating the historic democratic milestone, it was also about celebrating the “hidden histories” and achievements of ordinary women.
And asked what she hopes the event will ultimately achieve, she said: “It’s now about how we start to up the game in terms of influence.
“We need all of the women here to be our ambassadors.
“But it’s also about making sure that women have a voice in all of the issues that really affect them.
“As leader of the council I go to many events on transport, infrastructure, planning, issues that have a major impact on women’s lives.
“But there are too few women involved in the agenda - it shouldn’t be the preserve of men.”
Jeannette Morris-Boam, project manager for Women’s Lives Leeds, said: “We all recognise that there is a lot more to do.
“What we are hoping to achieve from today is a series of action plans. We want to make sure that women and girls’ voices are at the heart of any decision that takes place in Leeds.”