WORK hard and aim high – that was the message from the speakers an event organised by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Councils to mark International Women’s Day earlier this month.
The event, held at the Armagh City Hotel, invited young people aged 16-18 years from schools throughout the three council areas to mark and honour women’s advancement and the need for continued work to ensure women’s equality.
To inspire the audience in their ability to achieve great things were four influential women, three of which are prominent local figures came together to give a synopsis of what inspires them, how they as women have worked to change their local communities, how they balance their lifestyle and yet still work towards maintaining women’s equality in all aspects of life.
Opening the event, the Lord Mayor of Armagh, Councillor Sharon Haughey-Grimley revealed how the visit of US President Bill Clinton to Northern Ireland inspired her to become involved in local politics. She also remarked that although there was still a long way to go, women have come far since the first International Women’s Day.
This message was echoed by the Mayor of Craigavon, Councillor Carla Lockhart. Although the youngest Mayor to be elected to the post she feels that women are still under-represented in politics, she stressed the importance of the younger generation looking forward and becoming involved to bring about real political, economic and social change.
Keynote speaker Hannah Shields enthralled the audience with her tales of conquering Everest and encounters with polar bears in the Arctic. Hannah, the first woman from Northern lreland to reach the summit of Everest in May 2007, was also the first woman from Ireland to ski to the North Pole. Hannah stressed that throughout her life she had never let anyone tell her she could not do something and was not deterred by setbacks. Although she is very competitive – “As long as I do the best I can, I don’t care if I come last” she revealed.
In closing the event, Councillor Elizabeth Ingram, Deputy Chair of Banbridge District Council, recalled how she had entered the world of local government and the satisfaction of being able to effect change.