Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Maolíosa McHugh has thanked all those who attended this week’s reception in the Guildhall to celebrate International Women’s Day and mark the 100th Anniversary of the 1918 Representation of People Act – when women first gained the right to vote.
All female Councillors past and present from Derry City Council, Strabane District Council and Derry City & Strabane District Council were invited to the event. Those female Councillors who have passed away were also represented by family members.
Tributes were paid at the reception to the families of the first two female Councillors of Derry City Council, Anna Hay and Marlene Jefferson, who were elected in 1977. Marlene Jefferson later became the first female Mayor in 1980.
Mayor McHugh also made a personal presentation to all of the former and current Councillors who were present at the reception – and to those in attendance who were representing family members who have passed away.
He said: “I was delighted to host this important event to celebrate International Women’s Day and mark the 100th Anniversary of the 1918 Representation of People Act.
“We take our right to vote for granted now but there was a time when women, and many men, were excluded from the democratic system.
“This Act allowed women over the age of 30 who owned property the right to vote for the first time – and paved the way for equal representation for men and women in 1928.
“It was great to see so many Councillors attend the reception – and I was also honoured to meet family members of those Councillors who are sadly no longer with us.
“I also had the opportunity to welcome other female elected representatives from the Council area to the event – including Foyle MP Elisha McCallion and MLA’s Karen Mullan and Michaela Boyle.
“International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Therefore events like this are important for us to recognise and remember how far we have come in the struggle for equality and to highlight how much more work needs to be done.”