We hosted an inspiring International Women’s Day Question Time Event which provided the perfect platform to discuss a wide range of important issues relating to equality and inclusion.

Students from Winstanley College and St John Rigby joined Wigan & Leigh College learners to field well thought of and carefully considered questions to an esteemed panel.

The distinguished panel included Labour MP for Wigan, Lisa Nandy and Labour & Co-operative candidate for Leigh and Atherton, Jo Platt.

Wigan Council’s Young Persons Advisor, Damian Munro and Service Manager – Inclusion & Education Safeguarding Lead, Rachel Clemow also joined, alongside Jess Eastoe, Councillor for Tyldesley & Mosley Common, and Young People Equalities Lead at Greater Manchester Moving and the college’s A Level Head of Quality, Marina Islam-Banford.

The event, which took place on International Women’s Day, which marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality, had panel members discuss to the student audience how they have seen improvements and where there is still a long way to go in addressing the imbalance in gender equality.

Lisa Nandy, who shared some of her own experiences in politics stated that she was still ‘astonished that in this day there’s only ever been 56 women that have served on the cabinet in history’.

She was impressed with the event saying:

“Wigan & Leigh College has always played a strong role in our borough in supporting and empowering young women. Today was no exception. Absolute credit to all the inspirational young people in particular the young women who fielded some of the toughest questions the panel had to deal with.
“They left me in no doubt that if we do our part, they will do theirs. Someone will go onto cure cancer in our lifetime, somebody will save the climate crisis – why not one of these amazing young women who came to the event today.”

The panel addressed questions that included: Is feminism relevant today? How did you manage to build confidence in a male dominated area? (directed specifically to Lisa Nandy and Jo Platt) and is the gender pay gap falling quickly enough? This last one drew a unanimous no response.

Jo Platt added:

“It was a really professional and well thought out event. The questions that came from the students provided a really broad response in the answers, so I learnt from the panel as well as being able to contribute little bits of my experience too. It’s so important for young people to have that and to be thinking differently about other areas of life and where they can make a difference.”

The college’s Student Council and Head of Studies team led on the event, spawning the initiative out of student feedback. The new theatre space in the Centre for Performing Arts provided an ideal backdrop for the panel, which was supported by professional sound and lighting from Performing Arts staff.

There was opportunity at the end of the talks for students to get photos with the panel and speak individually to them in what was an overall emotive, thought provoking and empowering event.

A Level student, Cassandra Quinn-Haworth “It was a really interesting event as it was about us. And it was intriguing to hear from Lisa Nandy, as she was the first female MP of Wigan and has tried her best to do well for the town. A lot of MPs shine a good light on the world whereas she accepts that there’s problems with it and let’s everyone know that.”

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