Today’s guest blog comes from my Cabinet lead for Women, Children and Families, Helen Godwin.
Today is International Women’s Day. It is a special celebration this year as we mark 100 years of women’s suffrage. All across the UK there are events taking place to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women and we hope to inspire our daughters to take up the mantle of their foremothers and continue to make the changes that the world needs.
As one of just seven Centenary Cities in the UK, Bristol has received government funding to stage a series of events throughout the year to celebrate suffrage. This weekend Bristol Women’s Voice held a ‘takeover’ of City Hall. Despite the bad weather and the best efforts of Storm Emma (another strong woman!) hundreds of Bristol’s women came to witness the bands, performances, awards ceremonies, talks, stalls, art, creativity and general buzz of energy that filled our civic heart of the city. A highlight for me is the amazing suffragette balloon sculptures in the lobby of City Hall. They remain on display for International Women’s Day today – pop in and have a look.
The reality is that for most women today is just another day. And for many women, it is another day in fear. In the 100 years since suffrage we have seen little progress in the fight to end gender based violence. Bristol has a high prevalence of reported domestic violence. There are women in our city living in fear of their partner every single day, seven Bristol women were killed by their partner last year. Thousands of children are suffering trauma and damage as a result of living in homes with abuse.
It is time for this city to step up, together, and confront this issue. The painful aftermath of domestic violence and abuse reaches across the city – in schools, housing associations, GP surgeries, maternity wards, hospitals, prisons, mental health units, businesses, charities, churches and beyond. Only by bringing the city together can we make a difference. Today the Mayor and I, along with our Director of Children’s Services, Jacqui Jensen, announced our intention to make tackling domestic violence a key city priority. We met with representatives from key organisations and front line workers to begin to shape our approach to this horrible, violent issue.
Bristol is a City of Sanctuary for all. And on this and every day going forward that must include all women and children.