To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, was joined by local women from a range of ages and backgrounds to discuss issues that matter to them, locally, nationally and internationally.
The group heard from a panel of inspirational local women about their work in the community. Monica Kitchlew-Wilson, Head of Furzedown Primary, spoke about her family history, and her experiences as a social worker before getting into teaching. Monica was questioned by some sixth-form students who attended the event, and gave them fantastic advice about believing in themselves, and taking every opportunity that comes their way.
Sadiq Khan MP took part in a discussion about the ‘testosterone-driven’, ‘men’s playground’ culture at Westminster, and the importance of helping women into politics. Councillor Rachael Stokes told the group that she got into politics almost by accident, through community work. She also discussed her campaign to get a maternity policy for councillors, and how she, as a mother herself, had struggled to balance her commitments.
Kemi Akinola, shared how she set up her community charity, Be Enriched, after years of being a youth worker. Her staff are mainly women, and work flexibly to allow for childcare and other commitments.
Finally, the group heard from Sophia Parker, Founder of Little Village, a charity providing baby clothes and equipment. The organisation is 100% volunteer based, and Sophia talked about how her team of volunteers join together to use their skills and expertise to help other local families.
The theme of community and support ran through all the discussions and the whole event was rounded off in a fantastic way with a performance by Pram Chorus, a choir for parents and babies in the local area.
Sadiq Khan MP said: “It was my pleasure as the MP for Tooting to bring together local women of all ages and backgrounds to inspire and be inspired by one another. I was inspired! This year, the theme to pledge for parity was discussed in terms of women in politics and the workplace, childcare and community engagement. It was stressed that IWD is not just about women, but about both genders supporting each other to ensure equality and success. Many suggested that a first step towards this could be paid paternity pay.
“A big thank you to all the panellists, attendees and Tooting’s own Pram Chorus”.
Local resident, Helen Gray, said: “It was very inspiring and exciting to hear how much is happening in the local area and the morning was a real celebration for International Women’s Day. Pram Chorus were like a key note speaker, displaying a fun way for parents and children to spend time together and bringing a nice close to the day.”