Civic leaders up for the challenge

March 4, 2021 BY

Surf Coast mayor Libby Stapleton and deputy mayor Liz Pattison.

“CHOOSE to Challenge” is the theme for International Women’s Day, and with an all-female leadership team at the Surf Coast Shire council, the community is well-placed to see women’s needs represented in local government.

Monday, March 8 is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in all settings, including social, political, economic and cultural.

Surf Coast mayor Libby Stapleton said she was delighted to be part of an all-female local government leadership team, which includes deputy mayor Liz Pattison and acting chief executive officer Anne Howard.

“We’ve all had great female role models in our lives, someone we’ve looked up to, who has been an inspiration,” Cr Stapleton said.

“With five out of nine Surf Coast councillors being female, I’m confident our team will help women feel they can have their voices heard – and that people in our local community really want to listen.”

February 4 marked the formation of the Gender Equality Advisory Committee by the Victorian Government, which aims to draw on experience from across local government to harness the benefits of equality for all Victorians.

The committee aims to drive gender equality across Victoria’s 79 councils to deliver the state government’s target of 50 per cent female mayors and councillors by 2025.

This work follows the 2020 local government elections, where 272 women were elected to council – representing 43.8 percent of councillors.

Cr Stapleton said local government provided an opportunity for women to address the challenges identified by women – either as elected councillors or as council employees.

“Whether it’s child care places, flexible working arrangements, family-friendly events or gender equality in the workplace, local councils are a great barometer and example of what communities can look like,” she said.

Councils employ more than 45,000 Victorians. While more than half of that workforce is female, only one third of directors and managers are women, including 30 per cent of chief executives.

Cr Liz Pattison said examples of empowered women in leadership provided important real-life role models for others.

“It’s really important for women to see women in leadership roles – you can only be what you can see.

“Knowing that our Shire has a history of strong female leadership was the example I needed to put myself forward and run for local government.”

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