Three women lead council

WOMEN AT THE HELM: Kiersten Fishburn (from left), Tina Ayyad and Wendy Waller, chief executive, deputy mayor and mayor, respectively. Is this a new order?

WOMEN AT THE HELM: Kiersten Fishburn (from left), Tina Ayyad and Wendy Waller, chief executive, deputy mayor and mayor, respectively. Is this a new order?

For the first time in its history Liverpool Council is being led by three women – and it’s a reflection of change.

About two weeks ago Tina Ayyad was announced as the new deputy mayor, joining mayor Wendy Waller and chief executive Kiersten Fishburn.

Although the women hold different political views, they all revealed a similar vision for empowering women in the community.

Ms Ayyad said it was a step in the right direction for the city. “Liverpool’s attitude has changed and it’s something that needs to continue changing. There’s always been a negative stigma – it’s something we've been working on for a long time. We just need to embrace the growth and progress.

“Having three women leading our council is fantastic and it’s a move closer to equality. I hope it’ll encourage other women out there to pursue their dreams. It’s about women having a voice, especially in politics where the majority are men.”

She said a few years ago she wouldn’t have imagined herself in this position.

“I’m a mother of two young boys and I was at home for a couple of years raising them. They were my focus because at the time one of my boys had kidney failure. It was a really tough time, but we’ve moved on. After going through that experience my whole outlook on life changed. There was a point where I felt helpless and trapped. The other women at the renal centre gave me hope. If I can do that for other women, that would give me so much joy. Women need to empower themselves.

“My husband Ned [Mannoun] was the former mayor of Liverpool and he’s the one who encouraged me to put my hand up. His passion rubbed onto me.”

The deputy mayor said she’s hoping Liverpool will encourage other local councils.

“Across the board in all parties, the majority of it is men. I hope this encourages other councils to put other women up there to lead. We’re the peacemakers. Women, let’s speak up and be heard! Demand your rights and to be treated equally – that’s the only way it’s going to happen.”

She said she’s looking forward to working with the mayor and chief executive.

“I have a lot of respect for both of them. They’ve done a good job so far and I look forward to working with them as a team. I have an interest in women’s rights and big issues that affect women today, such as domestic violence. And I think three women can move Liverpool forward.”

The council’s chief executive, Ms Fishburn agreed it was a good change to have three women in power.

“It’s definitely historical and I think it’s worth reflecting on. Women have always been under-represented in government. I hope to empower women during my time as CEO. It’s a pretty inspiring time for the women of Liverpool to take on these roles.

“When three men are in leadership positions they don’t get questioned. What I’d like to see is for this to become so normalised that women can be in these positions and no one needs to comment on it.”

She said both women and men have different experiences and women can bring a new perspective on community issues.

“Women often have different experiences to men, especially with child and community services. I hope I’m able to represent those issues and work with women in my organisation to broadly represent the community. I’ve been  looking at a women's leadership-development program.

“My mum worked in public service for the state government. She was a complete inspiration. I hope I can inspire my own daughter. She’s only 18 months old but she’s already pretty determined!”

Mayor Waller said she has plans to help women in the community.

“I think this change will reflect well on Liverpool. Women make up over 50 per cent of the population.

“We’re already looking into initiatives about promoting women in business. I suppose we act as role models for other women. Liverpool residents will be able to see three women in this position – it’s a sign of the times and it should be.

“Ten years ago when I went for this job, I felt it was important for the community to have a female voice. My youngest daughter particularly encouraged me with an interest in social issues.”

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