Monmouthshire County Council marked International Women’s Day – Monday 8th March – by highlighting the campaign’s theme “Choose to Challenge”.  A number of the county’s inspirational women broadcast their experiences to staff via the council’s online livestream – the Digital Cwtch – and provided encouragement for everyone to succeed in their fields and question barriers.

Among them were Julie Boothroyd, the council’s Chief Officer for Social Care & Health who described how her career had developed during a lifetime of challenging engrained assumptions and stereotypes.  She opted to study woodwork and technical drawing at the age of 14 rather than pursue domestic science and later, as a young care worker questioned the way people were treated in the sector.  Julie said: “International Women’s Day gives an opportunity to consider women’s contribution to society, how we ensure we continue to contribute and challenge and how we combat inequality.”

Meanwhile, Monmouthshire IT manager Emma Jackson outlined how the council’s digital team is led by women, demonstrating how Monmouthshire bucks the industry trend of a male-dominated digital sector.

Also featured was 21-year-old Maddy Davies of Abergavenny, a keen martial arts competitor who has represented Wales at the Commonwealth Games and now owns a successful kickboxing academy as well as following a law degree while fully employed in a logistics company.  Maddy outlined her resolve to succeed and her determination to defy stereotyping while breaking through gender barriers.

The council also marked the day by recognising the amazing contributions of women across Monmouthshire on its social media channels with its Facebook and Twitter posts.  Among those was the council’s Employment and Skills team who tweeted their support for #ChooseToChallenge.

Digital events were held for young people across the county and by members of My Mates, the council’s friendship project for people with disabilities.  They celebrated International Women’s Day via a Teams meeting as they discussed women who had inspired them and shared real life examples of determination and courage, referring to how the women in their lives used their voices to improve matters.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for equality featured on one of the council’s social media videos.  She said: “I choose to challenge on this International Women’s Day because I want my daughter, other young girls, and women generally to have the same opportunities I have enjoyed.  I ask that everyone chooses to challenge, call out inequality in your own communities and support other people to help ensure a fairer and more equitable society.”