Marking International Women's Day in Thurrock

18 March 2022

Thurrock Council celebrated International Women's Day on Tuesday 8 March with a special online panel featuring six inspirational leading women in business as part of Thurrock Enterprise Week.

BBC News presenter Martine Croxall hosted the hour-and-a-half online conversation between:

  • Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, Chair of Thames Freeport
  • Lyn Carpenter, Chief Executive of Thurrock Council
  • Lucy Whittaker, founding director of Alpha Vesta
  • Maria Fasli, a Professor of Computer Science and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Health at the University of Essex
  • Samantha Wait, Director of Business Development and External Affairs at Swan Housing Association

Members of the public heard the experienced panel discuss topics including:

  • nurturing new talent in the panellists' specialist fields
  • the power that schools and wellbeing have from an early age
  • impact of social media on women in business
  • supporting employees and employers
  • ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • role of Thames Freeport in levelling up Thurrock

Cllr Deb Huelin, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: "International Women's Day is held on 8 March every year, providing an opportunity for us all to reflect on and celebrate the contributions women make every day.

"Alongside hearing from these inspirational guest speakers during Thurrock Enterprise Week, we also held a special event for Thurrock Council staff and members of the community to celebrate women's achievements and support taking action for equality. We have all seen and experienced gender bias and stereotypes and, as reflected in this year's global theme Break the Bias, together we can help to lead by example and break our bias and those in our communities, workplaces, schools, colleges and places of learning."

Panel member Rt Hon Ruth Kelly said: "Women represent the most powerful, yet untapped talent resource we have. While more and more women are working, starting their own businesses and contributing to the economy in a variety of ways, in this highly competitive and global economy, we must accelerate our efforts in ensuring we do not waste the skills of half the population – that is true in Thurrock and the Freeport as much as elsewhere in the UK. Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge."

Fellow panel member Professor Maria Fasli said: "It is vital that we attract and retain more women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) related subjects and careers. Women can bring diverse perspectives, creativity and innovation into STEM. They are resourceful problem solvers, perceptive decision-makers and leaders, able to balance teamwork with providing direction and emotionally resilient. Harnessing their largely untapped potential would deliver tangible benefits not just for economies but society overall."

The full conversation from the online panel is available to watch on the council's YouTube: International Women's Day 2022, leading women in business online panel.