Celebrating International Women’s Day in Bristol

Councillor Helen Holland, smiling with college green, Bristol Cathedral and trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and the Integrated Care System and Labour Councillor for Hartcliffe and Withywood ward

International Women’s Day is such an important event in our calendar and one we support both here at the council and alongside many of our partners across the city. In order to meet our ambition of making Bristol truly inclusive, fair and equitable for all, people shouldn’t be disadvantaged or discriminated against because of their gender.

To help celebrate this year, we are delighted once again to be supporting a great free event at City Hall on Saturday 11 March. Led by Bristol Women’s Voice and supported by other organisations, the event will see speakers, activities and workshops going on throughout the day. There will also be a creche, with access to transport and translators available to help make participating and enjoying the day and all that is on offer as easy as possible.

The theme this year is to #EmbraceEquity. In Bristol, we want to be a city leading the way both on equality and equity while also creating somewhere that is safe for all who live, visit, or work here.

We have been working hard to make progress in a number of key areas.

Since 2017, any UK organisation employing 250 or more employees must report publicly each year on its gender pay gap measuring the difference between men and women’s average salaries. We report monthly on the gender pay gap and most recently it shows a fall in both the mean pay for men higher than that of women at 3.87 per cent and median pay for men higher than women at currently 8.99 per cent. At the moment, I’m pleased to say the City Council has the lowest pay gap amongst local Public Sector employers but we will of course keep working until it is closed completely.

Safety at Night for women is also a priority, shared with a number of organisations, including Avon and Somerset Police. Last year we published our own Women’s Safety Charter. This is a citywide call to action to make sure women are safe in Bristol at night, whether living, working, visiting, or studying in the city. This has led to some excellent work with the universities, especially focused on safety for new students when they first come to Bristol.

Also as part of this year’s International Women’s Day events, Bristol Women’s Voice are partnering with SARSAS and The Green House to organise a march through the city, leaving College Green at 5pm on Saturday, to highlight the amazing work these organisations do with people who have experienced domestic and sexual violence.

We also want to see more women in leadership positions, and we have an award-winning programme called Stepping Up which aims to do just that. They look to unlock potential and develop talent ensuring a fair representation of women as leaders, as well as progressing Disabled people and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds too. Stepping Up can help you learn new skills, develop your network, and make the next step of your career in leadership. If this sounds of interest, there is still time to apply for the next round as applications remain open until 20 March.

As well as the march, the event on Saturday will feature lots of workshops, such as the poetry workshop using creative writing to explore how we age and the concept of becoming stronger and wiser as we get older. Another area of discussion as women get older is the approach to the menopause. Whilst some of the taboos around talking about the menopause have disappeared, some still exist, so to help document the different experiences locally, Healthwatch is asking for people to fill in their menopause survey. This will offer more information about the support and treatment that is available locally. If you can spare a few minutes please let Healthwatch know your thoughts and experiences.

Come and join us on Saturday, if you can. There will be something there for everyone, and if you can’t be there this year, can we just wish you a Happy International Women’s Day, celebrating the role of women in our city – and beyond!