Why International Women’s Day is an important reminder of the fight for equality

Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, reflects on International Women’s Day.

Today, to mark International Women’s Day, I had the privilege of joining friends and colleagues for a tram naming in honour of the late Theresa Stewart, the first – and so far only – woman to lead Birmingham City Council.

Theresa’s family were there to see the tram that has been named after her, and despite the snow there was a warm atmosphere as people gathered to see the tram and share their memories of Theresa.

First elected to the Billesley ward in 1970, Theresa went on to become Leader of the Council between 1993 and 1999, which meant that she was Leader during 1998 when Birmingham played host to Eurovision and the G8 summit. As Leader, Theresa played a vital role in both of these events, greeting world leaders like Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin and putting Birmingham firmly on the international map.

Theresa leaves behind a wonderful legacy in Birmingham, having spent her career fighting for rights for women, including founding Birmingham Pregnancy Advice Service, improving social services, and supporting generations of children.

Theresa has been an inspiration for so many women, and continues to be so, and she leaves behind an important legacy in our city. Her life is a reminder to us all that rights must be fought for, and once they have been won, we must continue to fight to protect them.

In Birmingham, our equality plan is set out in Everyone’s Battle, Everyone’s Business, and as an organisation we have made it clear that we will make every effort to ensure that Birmingham is a fair and equitable city for everyone. Theresa shared this vision, and it was fitting that on this International Women’s Day that we were able to pay tribute to one of Birmingham’s pioneering women.


This blog was posted on 8 March 2023.

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