Women in Eastbourne exhibition

SECAmb meeting

 I have expressed my dismay that an event to honour women in Eastbourne was opened by the town’s male MP, and described it as “a spectacular missed opportunity”.

The launch of the lottery-funded Women in Eastbourne exhibition and website at the DC1 Café and Gallery revealed fascinating research by the Wayfinder Women group about women of influence in Eastbourne’s past but was opened by Stephen Lloyd.

The organisers should have invited a woman to do the honours last Friday because there are plenty of local candidates who are outstanding role models in Eastbourne.

An event to celebrate the contribution of Eastbourne’s hidden women in times past – hosted by a charity whose purpose is to empower women – overlooked every woman in the town to open the exhibition and this is very sad.

At the launch, our lady Mayor stood anonymously at the back and I know people at the event felt it, because they told me so.

Perhaps it wouldn’t have been questioned if there weren’t a whole host of women with the stature and credentials to step up but there is. Many women in this town hold influential roles and their profile is important to inspire young women and girls to believe they can aspire too.

There’s also a host of women working away, without title or recognition, and who do a power of good in our town today. How fitting it would have been to invite one of their number to open the exhibition.

This launch was billed as a centenary event to commemorate women getting the vote and, if it was the case that a politician was required to take centre stage, then our most senior female elected representative in Eastbourne is Gill Mattock, the borough council’s deputy leader.

With the greatest respect to Stephen, I believe having him open this event was a spectacular missed opportunity in anyone’s estimation.

The most inspiring moment of the exhibition’s launch was seeing the women who had carried out the research project.

The exhibition was important and she commended all who have contributed to it and it has her full support.

Of course, it’s vitally important that men and women are part of a new appreciation of gender equality and it’s absolutely right that Stephen supports this exhibition, but headlining it? No, is my view.

It’s a shame he hadn’t thanked the organiser and stepped aside; he almost said as much, even as he called for the ribbon-cutting scissors.