Could this be the feistiest female family in Leeds?
The three generations have come together on International Women’s Day to urge other Leeds ladies to get involved in activism and make their mark on the city’s and the country’s future.
Mother and daughter duo Annie Maloney, 19, and Mirelle Midgley, 48, are both standing as council candidates in the forthcoming local elections – with the support of Mirelle’s mother Susan Dowsett, who has been key to inspiring the pair to do their bit for representing women.
It is the first time either Annie or Mirelle have stood for election, and they will both be battling for seats in the Garforth ward. Their main intention, they say, is getting more women and young people involved in their community and having their say.
Annie, of Kippax, a sociology student at the University of Sheffield, joined the Labour Party when she was 15.
She said: “I have been active for about five years and joined because of my mother bringing me up as a single parent. She was a support worker then, cared about others and taught me to do the same. I thought people deserved better and I wanted to change the world.”
If elected, Annie will be the city’s youngest councillor.
She added: “Women make up half the population and should be using their voices and votes.
“If I get elected my focus will be giving young women, working women a voice.
“Women have been working since Victorian times, in factories, in the Eighties they were on the picket lines supporting their husbands but not really had a say. Young people are so under represented, locally and nationally. A lot did not use their vote last year and we should be going forward.”
It was Annie getting involved with politics that inspired Mirelle, who works at an insurance broker, to step up after viewing it from afar for many years and not having the confidence to get involved.
She said: “Annie going into this at such a young age is a very brave thing to do and I thought ‘hang on a minute’ she is putting me to shame. I have only been involved with the party for the last three years – I always felt politics was something done by more experienced people and it was only in later years that my confidence has grown.”
But she had always had the interest in people and society that had been instilled by her hardworking parents, particularly mother Susan, 69, who worked around raising a family – something many other women didn’t do at that time. Mirelle said: “My mum raised me to see there is vast inequality. My parents worked their backsides off with little to show for it. That focussed my interest in social science and inequality. I got on with life, raised my daughter, struggled a lot of the time and saw the world as it is for a lot of people and wanted to get involved and try and change things.”
She says she has always been surrounded by “strong, hard-working women” and none more so than her mother Susan, who lives in Micklefield.
With her children at school, Susan had a number of jobs such as working in a shop, being a seamstress and also working as a support worker in a brain injury unit. She said: “It was a means to an end. I probably would have gone into politics then but it was about confidence. Women did not have the confidence to do that then and were not asked their views. I always voted. I knew what was going on in the world, you have no control over it and the only way that you can is by voting. I can’t tell you how proud I am of these two, they are doing what I always would have liked to have done.”