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London council becomes first to appoint ‘women and girls champion’

Islington Council is to become the first council in the UK to appoint a ‘women and girls champion.’

The council, with Plan International UK, has announced a commitment to create the new role today at its ‘International Women’s Day’ event.

The post will give a councillor the responsibility of working to highlight what more can be done to ensure the rights of women and girls are protected, as well as championing services designed to support them and to end violence against them.

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington Council’s executive member for community development, praised the women who have spoken out against sexual harassment and discrimination through the #metoo movement.

But, she said that the fight for equality is not over and that “too many women in Islington and the world are facing harassment, discrimination and violence.”

She explained: “We as a council have a responsibility to ensure that everything we do that affects the lives of women and girls has a focus on achieving equality.”

The introduction of the role was recommended in Plan International UK’s 2016 report, ‘The state of girls’ rights in the UK.’

Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan International UK, added: “By electing someone to specifically champion women and girls’ rights in their borough, Islington will take a huge step in tackling the barriers faced by girls.”

Barron said: “Talking to girls across the country, we discovered that girls don’t feel safe on the streets, in the classroom or online.

“Despite this, we don’t talk enough about adolescent girls as a particular demographic group. Often discussed problems need to be understood from girls’ particular perspectives, and in terms of human rights.

“All too often, girls can’t access their rights, and whether they can enjoy these rights is dependent on where they live and the decisions made at a local level.

“We recognise that local governments have taken some steps to prioritise girls’ needs but much more needs to be done.”

Top image: Richard Gray EMPICS Entertainment

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