South Tyneside Council proud to have gender equality

Coun Tracey Dixon.
Coun Tracey Dixon.

A leading South Tyneside councillor says the local authority is proud to be bucking the trend - and leading on gender diversity.

Coun Tracey Dixon was speaking after a call by national think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), for a better gender balance in local government.

South Tyneside Council is one of the few councils with an even gender split.

South Tyneside Council is one of the few councils with an even gender split.

It says more than 3,000 female councillors are needed nationwide if the country is to achieve a 50-50 balance between men and woman.

South Tyneside Council already has exactly that - 27 male councillors and 27 female.

Just a third of councillors across the UK are women and fewer than one in five council leaders is female, the IPPR analysis showed.

South Tyneside Council is one of the few to already have a 50/50 gender balance.

Some wards - such as Boldon Colliery - have all female councillors and others have more female representatives than their male counterparts.

Coun Dixon, lead member for health and wellbeing, said having a gender balance was a positive thing.

She said: “South Tyneside Council is bucking the national trend in gender balance.

“We have been gender balanced for a number of years and it is a very positive thing for us.

“From a local authority perspective, there are a number of women in key positions in cabinet and who chairing various committees.”

Running alongside the think tank call, the Local Government Association is leading a campaign called ‘Be A Councillor’ which encourages engagement from women and under-represented groups.

Coun Dixon said she welcomed such campaigns, adding: “Different wards have different people interested in becoming local councillors.

“I welcome gender campaigns such as the LGA’s in moving forward.
“From a South Tyneside point of view we already do this.

“Gender balance for me is something very positive for future generations.”

Clare McNeil, IPPR associate director, said: “It cannot be right in 2017 that there are barely any women represented in the leadership of our newest democratic institutions, the combined authorities.

“Efforts made to address this in Greater Manchester and elsewhere are to be welcomed, but radical change is needed if devolution is to be about bringing power to the people, rather than consolidating it among white middle-aged men.

“Political institutions and parties must introduce more ambitious quotas to improve representation in the short term.

“And local government should do more to encourage women to stand and support them effectively once they have been selected.

“Without these measures representation will continue to be deeply unequal.”