Female leaders from the world of Co-ops met ahead of International Women’s Day at special event

Female leaders from the world of Co-ops celebrated International Women’s Day at a Midlands event

An actress brought the story of the suffragette movement to a life as part of a special event designed to shine a light on female equality and empowerment.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the fourth Co-operative Women’s Voices Event saw prominent women from across the Midlands come together to take part in a range of seminars, workshops and roundtables tackling a range of subjects.

The Harvest Fields Centre, in Sutton Coldfield, played host to a one person show looking at the suffragette story along with discussions on women in leadership, career progression, gender equality and ending violence against women.

Among the speakers at the event were Margaret Casley-Hayford, who chairs the board of Shakespeare's Globe, and was formerly chair of ActionAid UK and company secretary and head of legal services for leading retailers the John Lewis Partnership, and Dorothy Francis, who has over 30 years’ experience in advising co-ops and social enterprises on how to grow.

Elaine Dean, Central England Co-operative President and one of the event organisers, said: “I am so proud to have been involved in a great event designed to highlight topics ranging from women in leadership at work to putting an end to domestic violence.

“As part of celebrations for International Women’s Day, this event allowed like-minded women from all walks of life to come together to debate, discuss and learn how we can support one another.

“We also enjoyed talking about the importance of co-operation and the co-operative movement and the vital role it plays in working to empower women to continue to face challenges head on and strive for improved equality of opportunities.

“Events like these are important and allow everyone involved to use their voices to talk about their successes as well as the challenges they face,”

A total of 80 people attended the event, which also included a display of a unique project marking 100 years since women received the vote in the form of 50 life-size cut outs created by local people.



Notes to editors

Picture caption: Women from across the Midlands came together to take part in the Co-operative Women’s Voices Event.

About Central England Co-operative


Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK. 


It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, travel shops, and property investment.


Central England Co-operative has over 400 trading outlets across 16 counties including; West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.  The Society has an ambitious food store development programme for 2019.


Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.  It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence.  The Society supports a number of charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.


Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to member activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.

Find out how to become a Central England Co-operative member by calling 0800 0501 601, emailing members@centralengland.coop or visiting https://www.members.coop


For more information visit www.centralengland.coop, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, and on Facebook: facebook.com/centralenglandcooperative


Rob Smyth and James Brindle at Central England Co-operative on 01543 421390


Email –publicrelations@centralengland.coop