September 7, 2022 8.00 am This story is over 13 months old

Council looks to “dismantle stereotypes” around women with year-long celebration

A list of famous names from across political, cultural and police sectors

South Kesteven District Council has said it wants to “dismantle the stereotypes” around women, as it launches a year-long programme of events.

The council’s Inspirational Women of South Kesteven is the culmination of a project started in 2019 with the creation of a 30-minute film featuring 10 key daughters of the district, costing £6,023.

The video will launch on November 21 to coincide with the birth of one of those women, Edith Smith, who was the the first female police officer to be given the power of arrest while servicing in Grantham.

Councillor Helen Crawford told a meeting of the council’s Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday: ” Inspirational women of South Kesteven women have played an extremely important part in history, and it is always important to ensure we shine a light on their contributions and tell their stories.

“As a society we have a responsibility to dismantle the stereotypes that hold women back, we need to consider how we talk about topics such as caring responsibilities and who should perform those roles.”

She said the latest success by the England Women’s Football Team highlighted the inspiration they were aiming for.

A blue plaque trail around Grantham which includes five of the women will be reviewed, enhanced and promoted with Stamford District Society, Deepings Heritage Society and others.

Consultation carried out in July suggested that the council’s events could include a street exhibition about the women, along with a new Women in Leadership Summit, alongside work with school pupils to promote the success of females from the area.

The 10 women so far included are:

  • Margaret Beaufort – The mother of King Henry VII of England who helped orchestrate the rise of the Tudor dynasty
  • Harriet Arbuthnot – 19th Century diarist, political hostess and close friend of Prime Minister and 1st Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley
  • Lady Angela Forbes – a British socialite and novelist who organised soldiers’ canteens in France during the First World War.
  • Mother Magdalen Frances Margaret Taylor – an English nurse, editor and writer, nun, and Superior General and founder of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God
  • Victoria, Lady Welby Gregory – Writer and philosopher who educated herself and became one of the few women of her era to become a thinker and writer.
  • Edith Smith –  First woman police officer to be given the power of arrest
  • Lilian Wyles – Another early female police officer in England. She was among the first to take statements from female and juvenile assault victims.
  • Dame Felicity Hill – A British Royal Air Force officer who served as director of the Women’s Air Force. She lived to see 103.
  • Judy Campbell –
  • Margaret Thatcher – Former Conservative Prime Minister

Councillors were impressed by the work, however there were suggestions of additions to the list.

Councillor Amanda Wheeler noted that all the women so far mentioned were deceased, though 13 alive women were under consideration for being added to the list.

“There’s talk about diversity and inclusion, and making sure that any workshops or exhibitions are diverse and inclusive, but I would like to also propose that the current inspirational women less that we’re looking at that we make sure that that is diverse and inclusive,” she said.

“It would be quite nice to see something more reflective of modern women and that we make sure that they come from a wide cross section.”

Councillor Baxter hoped the authority would add Lady Charlotte Guest of Uffington, the first publisher in modern print format of The Mabinogion – the earliest prose literature of Britain.

Further work will take place in scoping out events, drawing upon the research available so far, and investigating sponsorship, networking opportunities and a marketplace to promote local businesses.