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Dr Helen Pankhurst to visit Birmingham as part of 'In Conversation' event

Last year marked a century since some women were first able to vote in a General Election in the UK – and next month Dr Helen Pankhurst CBE, great-granddaughter of suffrage leader Emmeline Pankhurst, will headline a free event at Birmingham’s Custard Factory.

The ‘In Conversation…’ event is being hosted by West Midlands Women’s Voice – an organisation made up of influential women working together to support the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in setting an agenda for economic growth and better social welfare – and will put the spotlight on the role of women in arts, culture, sport and business at a time when the region will be in the headlines ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Games and Coventry being named as the UK City of Culture.

During the event, held on March 6, attendees will hear from high profile speakers from the world of sport, the armed forces and emergency services, music and the arts – followed by the keynote from Dr Pankhurst at 12.30pm and a panel debate hosted by West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street featuring Sam Smethers from the Fawcett Society and a number of local politicians.

Jane Kemp, who is one of the event organisers, said: “This is a really exciting time for the West Midlands; the Commonwealth Games (CWG) is just around the corner and planning is well underway for Coventry’s year as the UK City of Culture in 2021.

“This event is really going to highlight what a fantastic place the West Midlands is, and emphasise the roles of women within that. We have a really brilliant line-up of speakers from different industries and walks of life, who we know will be involved in some interesting panel debates and have some brilliant stories to tell.

“We are thrilled that Dr Helen Pankhurst is joining us and will deliver the keynote; she is such a fascinating woman with such a breadth of experience as both a women’s rights activist and through her charity work in the UK and abroad. The paperback of her book Deeds Not Words, The Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now will be launched during the event and Helen will be signing copies available on the day.

“While the event focuses very much on women within the West Midlands, it is open to both men and women.”

Deborah Cadman, chief executive at WMCA said: “WMCA have supported WMWV from their start in 2016 and the input from them working with Fawcett and now Pankhurst is very valuable. Consultation processes in relation to matters such as the industrial strategy benefit greatly from their input.

“We are working with local authorities and other delivery bodies to ensure CWG and Coventry City of Culture are truly inclusive and reflect our West Midlands community and this ‘In Conversation…’ event is all part of that effort.”

The event will feature four panel debates: Challenging role for women in uniform services – delivering better outcomes featuring speakers from the Army, Royal Navy, RAF and West Midlands Police; Sport – Shifting the Culture including Wasps CEO Nick Eastwood, young elite sportswomen and representatives from University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton  WanderersFoundation, CWG, British Athletics and Sport England; Music & Arts – Changing Communities with participants from Coventry City of Culture, Little Birds, University of Wolverhampton and Women in Jazz; before the closing panel chaired by Andy Street.

During the event, there will also be live performances from Women in Jazz and the University of Wolverhampton’s UN programme, #hearhersong.

After lunch, there will be the opportunity to contribute to a number of workshops including Exploring Your Political Pathway – a session hosted by The Parliament Project, which will encourage participants with an interest in politics but who are unsure where to start through discussion and information sharing.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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