Phasing out ‘gender defining titles’ among measures backed to make Peterborough council more inclusive

A call has been made for Peterborough City Council to phase out ‘gender defining titles’ as part of an approach to make the authority ‘more inclusive’.

Monday, 27th July 2020, 5:40 am

A motion has been submitted by Labour member for Park ward Cllr Aasiyah Joseph which will be voted on by councillors on Wednesday.

Cllr Joseph highlighted a survey of female parliamentarians which showed 81.1 per cent reported facing psychological violence, while 65.5 per cent said they had been subjected to humiliating sexual remarks and 20 per cent reported having been sexually harassed.

She added: “And at local level, the picture is not much different. In the 2018 national census of local authority councillors only 35.7 per cent were female.

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Cllr Aasiyah Joseph (front, centre)

“Having spoken to many women in Peterborough and asked them why they don’t want to put themselves forward to become councillors, they have cited bullying, aggressive behaviour and rudeness as some of the main reasons.

“Many have said that since the advent of live streaming, the behaviour in the chamber has become worse.”

The motion calls for the council to recognise that:

. The majority of its staff are women, yet the majority of councillors and council leaders are male

. Equal opportunity is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach

. It has a duty to consider all individuals when carrying out its day-to-day work

. Improved provision for parental leave will “contribute towards increasing the diversity of age, experience and background of councillors” while making public office “more accessible to those who might otherwise feel excluded”

. Action must be taken to improve the number of female councillors while also “creating a culture where they wish to stay”.

The motion calls for the council to:

. Pay particular attention to all aspects of equality and diversity as each policy comes up for review

. Adopt the Local Government Association’s policy for parental leave

. Ensure councillors with children and other caring commitments are supported

. Ensure better behaviour in the Council Chamber by: reminding members of their responsibilities at the start of each meeting, stepping in quickly if members fail to behave correctly and applying fairness in decisions and the overseeing of meetings

. Phasing out the use of gender defining titles,

Cllr Joseph added: “Only by recognising and working towards putting in place the necessary policies and creating a respectful and positive atmosphere can we truly become an all-inclusive body which in turn can communicate, encourage and promote across our city.”

The meeting is being held from 6pm and can be viewed online.