Why the East Anglian Daily Times is running Women’s Week

The first of two laws was passed in 1918 that gave women the right to vote. Picture: ARCHANT

The first of two laws was passed in 1918 that gave women the right to vote. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

We’ve come a long way in the past century, writes Gemma Mitchell.

Since successfully fighting for our democratic right to vote, women have continued to push for more respect, more freedom and more power.

We now have more women in suits, playing elite sport, protecting our streets, treating patients and conducting research.

There is even a woman leading our country.

Take our news team. Today, there are just as many women reporters as there are men. Journalism is no longer a man’s game.

This week we will be publishing a series of articles exploring what it’s like being a woman in Suffolk and Essex today – the biggest issues we face, and how much further we need to go to establish true equality.

No doubt some readers will be thinking, haven’t you girls got it all already? Well, the answer is no.

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In Suffolk, the gender pay gap is wider than the national average, with women earning 21% less an hour than men. The disparity is even greater for black, Asian and minority ethnic women.

There is still an under-representation of women at the highest level in many businesses and organisations – even the EADT has never had a female editor, for example.

Political representation is still dominated by men. At Suffolk County Council, there are 53 male councillors and 21 female, while in Essex there are 55 male county councillors and 20 female.

Too many families are living in fear as domestic abuse continues to rise locally, and we are disgusted to regularly report on brutal rapes and sex assaults in our towns.

Muslim women face abuse simply for wearing a headscarf.

A recent survey found three out of five Suffolk schoolgirls worry about their body image ‘most or all of the time’.

In adhering to our style guide, I find myself putting some women at unease when I ask them: are you Miss, Mrs or Ms? Yet men are not asked to divulge their marital status to journalists, or anyone else for that matter.

It’s for these reasons, and many more, that I know there is still much more to do, and the media has an important part to play in fostering social change.

I hope the stories you read over the coming days will highlight the challenges women in our counties quietly battle on a daily basis, and celebrate those working to build a better society for our daughters.