Today is the 101st International Women’s Day.
Woodley works as a local councillor, for Thornton Heath ward. She teaches French and Spanish in a secondary school, and was previously head of modern languages at a school in the borough.
Why is the 101st International Women’s Day an important occasion?
LW: It is especially important to celebrate International Women’s Day in order to highlight the achievement of many women, but also to remind us of the areas in which women are still being exploited. We should not forget that in many societies women are regarded to be inferior to men or at least “less capable” than men.
Part of our country’s role, for example, is to bring girls an improved access to education in Afghanistan.
As a teacher myself I believe that education is a great liberator. Education provides people with opportunities to better themselves.
Separately, female genital cutting is a most appalling practice that should be combatted through education.
Women also have a key role to play in building peace around the world.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is women in poor rural economies. Women in some developing countries form a major part of the agricultural workforce. Investing in rural women increases productivity and reduces hunger.
At home we need more women elected. The Inter-Parliamentary Union has reported that we lie in 53rd place, equal with Malawi, for the percentage of women who hold seats in Parliament.
Also in the UK we must be ever vigilant to combat forced marriages, human trafficking and to support both women and men who have suffered from domestic violence or abuse.
In that regard, why has your party’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, launched a campaign in Croydon about the Family Justice Centre?
LW: The Family Justice Centre is under threat of closure. It is good that someone of her stature and proud feminist history was down in Croydon and launched the campaign.
Croydon Labour women will be outside the Family Justice Centre this evening to protest the attack on this facility.
Labour introduced this facility, modelled on a successful scheme in San Diego. It was the first of its kind in Europe where all the authorities and the courts work together to stop domestic violence victims suffering continuous assault. Restraining orders can be secured quickly against abusive partners. This is done by going to court with the allegations almost immediately. The abusive partner is not in the court to slow things down. The case can be heard without the alleged aggressor being there. The accused violent partner can then be banned from the house and from making any further contact with his family so stopping many violent domestic violence crimes.
How do you feel that women are coping with the economic crisis?
LW: It’s tough. Many women are carers and they are seeing their benefits cut. Unemployment among women over 50 is up by 20 per cent. A survey showed 1 in 5 women skipping on meals so that they can feed their family.
Should men celebrate International Women’s Day?
LW: Yes, the day is about how life can be improved for all humanity. And all men have mothers, and some also have daughters.
Should Yvette Cooper replace Ed Milliband as leader of the Labour party?
LW: Ed’s great. Just look at the improvement in our poll standings under his leadership.
Yvette is a testament to the benefit of Labour’s promotion of women politicians. Labour gets women both selected and elected. We are light years ahead of the Tories in this regard.
Yvette is a star. Both bright and in touch.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
- Happy International Women’s Day and Feminist Coming Out Day! (sarahoverthemoon.com)
- Stalking to be made a crime: PM (bbc.co.uk)
- Outcry at betrayal of domestic violence victims (independent.co.uk)