HUNDREDS from Furness will today join millions worldwide for International Women’s Day – the annual celebration of the social and political achievements of women everywhere.
They will remember the bravery of female activists down the years, notably Emily Wilding Davison who walked into the path of the king’s horse at the Epsom Derby on June 4, 1913 and whose martyrdom ignited the flames.
It is one of the significant moments of history and one that must be marked today as the fight for equality – particularly in the long-running dispute over women’s state pensions – which continues.
And committed to the entire crusade are two noted feminists from the Barrow and Furness Labour Party. Fifty years might separate Anne Burns and Daisy Fletcher-Cooney, but they are joined together in their uncompromising battle to kick down the doors of inequality.
Barrow-based Cllr Burns has been working in the community for nearly five decades, joining the Labour party in 1973 and elected to the county council in 1985.
Cllr Burns has become a rock-solid fixture of the local council apparatus and she has worked tirelessly for the socialist cause.
At her side is an equally-committed Ms Fletcher-Cooney, from Ulverston, who joined the Party three years ago.
As Cllr Burns puts it: “It has taken years of struggle to fight for women’s rights and the fact that we now have International Women’s Day is another important staging post on the road to complete equality.
“Lots of work is going on in Barrow to support women. Not least the unsung officers and volunteers who are part of the Women’s Community Matters organisation based in the Nan Tait Centre.
“One of my main goals is to have younger women on board to join the fight and I salute Daisy for wanting to be a part of it.”
Ms Fletcher-Cooney, 21, adds: “I joined the Labour party in 2018 because I was inspired by the 2017 manifesto which offered the possibility of change from the grassroots. I believe in women’s rights and equal representation.
“After having been elected to the post of women’s officer for Furness Young Labour I feel confident about the future.
“I am standing for Ulverston Town Council – central ward – in the May elections and I look forward to working alongside seasoned feminist politicians like Anne Burns.
“I’m passionate about women’s rights and I believe getting more young women involved in politics will enrich our party and ensure that we get the representation that we deserve.”
The fledgling feminist torch, perhaps first lit by Emily Davison at that Epsom racetrack back in 1913, is now aglow and finding a new audience in a new century.
There have been false-starts and other setbacks but the message hasn’t veered from its original course.
“We have made strides,” said Cllr Burns, “but our struggle continues until the war for equality has been won.”