Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen described women being paid less than men as “a burning injustice” after speaking at a special event to mark International Women’s Day at Teesside University.
The Innovative Women event was attended by individuals and groups from across the Tees and wider North-East regions, as part of Creative Fuse North East’s latest Cake event.
The mayor told Tees Business: “It was a pleasure to address the Cake 18 event on International Women’s Day. It was inspiring to hear the stories of so many who are active in building a better Tees Valley for everyone.
“For more than 100 years, International Women’s Day has called on us to stand together and celebrate the tremendous achievements of women in every country around the world.
“We have come a long way since the 1918 Representation of People Act giving women the vote. We’ve had hundreds of women MPs and two female Prime Ministers – but we need to go further and faster.
“That means fighting against the burning injustice that, if a woman, you will earn less than a man.
“I’m clear that we need to ensure everyone can achieve their potential whatever their gender or background.”
Celebrating the innovative work of women in the North-East, speakers at the event examined themes of participation, inclusion and intersectionality from a variety of different perspectives.
Through a talk by Clara Shield, managing director of creative not-for-profit organisation Little Big Butterfly, the event looked at the work of the Young Women’s Film Academy, who work on socially responsible film and drama projects for youth and community groups, empowering individuals to become agents of social change.
Guests also heard about the work of Be, who work to support trans and non-binary people through peer support, health and wellbeing events and diversity and inclusion consultancy work.
The event also considered the role of art and poetry in social change, with Hartlepool-born but Botswana-raised Catherine Reed discussing art as a healing tool and local poet Dianne Casey performing a poem written in honour of International Women’s Day.
The event opened with addresses from Houchen and Sharon Paterson, associate director for Culture and Engagement at both MIMA and Teesside University, while Ann Stonehouse led an information stand for Tees-based Assist Women’s Network, which issues a platform to share knowledge and showcase skills.