Girl power: leaders celebrate 100 years

30th October 2007

Watford and Three Rivers leaders are celebrating 100 years of women Councillors. The special anniversary this week is being highlighted by the Women's Local Government Society.

Three Rivers District Council Leader, Ann Shaw, said:

"A lot has changed even in my time as a Councillor and there is now much more respect for women Councillors' common sense and intelligence.

"Partnership working across councils and other agencies in Hertfordshire to deliver services jointly is the sort of sensible and practical approach that women have helped to develop in local politics."

Watford Borough Council has currently 16 female Councillors while Three Rivers has 11. Both Councils are committed to promoting diversity among elected Members and Council staff.

Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill said:

"Women have an enormous role to play in local government. We should encourage women of all ages and experiences to take part in politics - around half the residents of Watford are women, so it's important they are well represented in the Council."

In 1907, the Qualification of Women (County and Borough Councils) Bill was introduced into the House of Lords. It said that women should not be disqualified from being council candidates because of their gender. It also allowed them to become Mayors. The Bill became law in the same year.

Not everyone in Parliament thought it was a good idea. The Earl of Halsbury, speaking in the House of Lords debate, thought women were "too hysterical" to be Councillors, and that they might be "guided by feeling and not cold reason".

Watford and Three Rivers Councils have a compact agreement to support joint working between them and they are currently working together on the improvements to the Woodside leisure centre. Both Councils are members of the new County-wide Pathfinder initiative which aims to increase further the joined up working between Councils and key agencies.