Pupils get inspiring advice from working women


Young women in County Durham were inspired to achieve their career ambitions no matter their gender, this International Women’s Day.

To mark the international day, which is celebrated all over the world on 8 March, Durham County Council hosted a dedicated event for some of the county’s female school pupils.

Students from Belmont Community School, Parkside Academy and Wolsingham School were invited to County Hall to meet some of the women who work at the council in senior roles or traditionally male-dominated sectors.

The young women had one-on-one discussions with the staff, who work across various services within the council including politics, business and economics, transport, highways, consumer protection, public health, and environment.

The staff got the opportunity to tell pupils how they got into their career, how attitudes have changed towards women in their sector, and share any advice for young women looking to achieve their dreams.

The event was hosted by Leader of the council, Cllr Amanda Hopgood, and Amy Harhoff, the council’s corporate director for regeneration, economy, and growth.

Cllr Hopgood said: “International Women’s Day is held every year to celebrate the achievements of women throughout history and promote an equal world now and for the future. This year’s theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ – promoting the inclusion of women and girls in all aspects of society and empowering them to feel valued and included.

“Today we wanted to show the young women of County Durham that they can achieve their ambitions and aim high no matter their gender. As the first ever woman political leader of Durham County Council, this is something that is very important to me and I wanted to use today as an opportunity to encourage the students to pursue their dreams.”

Amy Harhoff said: “It was a fantastic privilege to hear from the young people who attended today and talk to them about their interests and aspirations for the future. I hope the discussions they had with our teams will inspire them to achieve their ambitions, their potential and to be whatever they want to be, and to know their gender does not define their career opportunities.

“If you can’t see it you may feel you can’t be it. Hearing from senior women across the council in sectors such as building, transport, engineering and regeneration is really important and I’m proud to be part of a team that values gender diversity.”

At the end of the event, pupils were asked to write down a pledge for themselves relating to International Women’s Day and what they can do to achieve their ambitions and promote gender equality.

Louise Langmead, a student at Belmont Community School, wrote: “I learned to never give up and always try even if you think you can’t do it.”