Celebrating 21st Century women in leadership on International Women’s Day

Updated: 8 March 2023

The Leader, Chair and Chief Executive of Three Rivers District Council, three female leaders, discuss women’s role in shaping our world as International Women’s Day is marked across the globe.

The Leader, Chair and Chief Executive of Three Rivers District Council, three female leaders, discuss women’s role in shaping our world as International Women’s Day  is marked across the globe.

Cllr Sarah Nelmes, Leader of Three Rivers District Council

“My mother was involved in politics – so I have always been inspired by strong female leaders,” explained Cllr Sarah Nelmes, the Leader of Three Rivers District Council. “She taught me the power of politics and the difference as local politicians we could make. She also taught me that whatever a man did, women could do it too – this was at a time when politics both locally and nationally, was far more male dominated. There have been some wonderful political figures who have shown the power of female leadership, achieving more than their male counterparts maybe could have done and in different ways.

“And I am so excited when I look to the future, when I see young women getting involved in leadership in a variety of ways. Our Youth Council is one great example of that – to see young women today challenging the status-quo from an early age reminds me that we are still on a journey, a journey that started in the last century by the Suffragettes, was continued by the women of my mother’s generation and will carry on in the future. I feel proud to be the Leader of Three Rivers.”

Cllr Debbie Morris, Chair of Three Rivers District Council

"I'm delighted to be Chair of Three Rivers where women are in all the senior leadership roles,” said Cllr Debbie Morris, the Chair of the Council. “It feels very normal to me that women occupy these positions but it wasn't always this way. Looking at the list of past Chairs going back decades, it is dominated by men. Thankfully, times have changed here but sadly, that isn't the case in many countries throughout the world where women don't enjoy equality with men. That's why it's important that we mark International Women's Day.

"Last year, we lost our longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. It was evident from the huge number of tributes to her that she was greatly admired and respected across the globe. I think it appropriate to remember her on the first International Women's Day since her passing as she was and will remain a true inspiration to all."

Joanne Wagstaffe, Chief Executive of Three Rivers District Council

Joanne Wagstaffe, the Chief Executive, Three Rivers District Council, said: “We must always be optimistic about the future of women in roles of influence, as role models and as innovators. Every day in my role as chief executive of a local authority I am aware that I have my own part to play in furthering gender equality – not just by being an example of a women in leadership, but by encouraging the persistence and optimism of women across the organisation.

“We see more women running for election every year – more women taking senior positions in this council – and in other large organisations as well. And as the years go by I feel more and more optimistic about that role women will play in the future. The world of gender equality has changed a lot since I started work in local government, today I am delighted to say that it is no longer remarkable to see women leading big companies, government departments, councils, and other organisations. On International Women’s Day my message is: let’s remain optimistic and persistent as we celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and continue to push for gender equality in all forms all over the world.”