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Manchester High School for Girls

CATHERINE MAYER; CANDID IN MANCHESTER

Catherine Mayer, co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party (WE), renowned journalist and author of that Prince Charles biography returned to her alma mater, Manchester High School for Girls, on Tuesday 2 February 2016.

Delivering Manchester High’s inaugural Founders’ Lecture, Catherine gave a frank, honest insight into the British political system and explained how she and Sandi Toksvig came to found the country’s first feminist party, giving Westminster a much needed wake-up call in the process.

Coinciding with the announcement of WE candidates for the May elections, Catherine discussed how the party plans to transform their passion for ‘doing politics differently’ into votes.

“We’re not exactly short on ambition. We want nothing less than to deliver gender equality, both by winning seats and encouraging other parties to either work with us or just nick our policies. We’re already having an impact, changing the debate and pushing key issues higher up the agenda. And, we’re not the only ones to have noticed this impact. Many national newspapers attributed Downing Street’s recent move on pay transparency to the rising support for the Women’s Equality Party”, commented Catherine.

As one of the country’s fastest growing political parties, the WE now has 65 branches and boasts over 45,000 members and supporters across the UK.

Despite being billed as a ‘lecture’, the evening proved interactive and relaxed with Catherine taking questions from the floor.

She said, “I covered politics for 30 years but even I have been frankly amazed by some of the things I have found out since doing politics ‘for real’. I’m always happy to talk about pretty much anything to do with the Women’s Equality Party, my years in the media or my books. I may have gone into politics but I’m not worried about staying ‘on message’.”

The audience on the night included current Manchester High pupils and their families, as well as students from other local schools and colleges, including Xaverian College in Fallowfield and New Charter Academy in Ashton.  Members of Manchester High’s alumnae community were present, as well as representatives from the WEP branches in Manchester, Stockport and Chester.

Claire Hewitt, Head Mistress of Manchester High School for Girls, said: “Our Founders’ Lecture aims to bring distinguished speakers to school to engage our community in topical debates, and, after hearing Catherine Mayer talk about female representation in UK politics we’ve certainly done just that!

“Manchester High has a longstanding connection to the suffragette movement and the Pankhurst sisters. The work of Catherine and the Women’s Equality Party brings the feminism debate right up to date and we were thrilled to welcome her back to our school and the city of Manchester.”

Many thanks to all our guests who made donations to Manchester High's Pankhurst Bursary Appeal on the night. They were most gratefully received.

A video of the lecture can be viewed here: