TEST Valley Borough Council (TVBC) will pay tribute to inspirational women across the borough to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage later this year.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of a motion proposed by Councillor Jan Lovell last month for TVBC to support a community event and encourage women to engage with local politics.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group Celia Dowden, the first female leader of the group, also backed the project which will see engagement with various organisations to celebrate female pioneers.

Cllr Lovell said: “We hope that by engaging with organisations such as, schools, youth groups, WI, women in business, volunteers, military wives, to inform an event facilitated by TVBC, where we shall identify and celebrate exceptional women from across the borough, pay tribute to the early inspirational pioneers for women’s suffrage in this centenary year, and encourage women and others who struggle with representation, to boldly come forward and fully participate in our civic and public life.”

“It is a fact that across the country, women councillors are under-represented by a ratio of 2:1 and those with special responsibility payments are receiving approximately 25 per cent less than men, evidencing the lack of appointments to roles such as committee chairmen or cabinet portfolio holders.”

Cllr Dowden also explained to members the Women’s Local Government Society is working on the initiative nationally, with three stages to the project including nominations of pioneers, engaging with organisations to “inspire a new generation of civic activists” and a local commemoration such as a plaque or a tree.

The council hopes to encourage more women to stand for local elections set to take place in 2019.

Cllr Dowden added: “The project’s legacy hopefully will be seen in more nominations from women and other under-represented groups at the next local elections.

“As society sees what women can do, as women see what women can do, there will be even more women out there doing things- and we’ll all be better off for it.

“More female leadership will lead to fairer treatment for all women.”