South Tyneside Council is celebrating inspiring women across South Tyneside as part of International Women's Day.
Marked annually on the 8 March, International Women's Day is a global day centred around promoting and celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, as well as raising awareness about women's equality and gender balance across communities.
Mayoress of South Tyneside, Mrs Jean Williamson, said: "International Women's Day is a great way of recognising achievements of women across the Borough, as well as remembering the sacrifices and challenges facing women across the generations."
This year saw the appointment of the first ever female leader of South Tyneside Council. Councillor Tracey Dixon has lived in South Tyneside all her life and entered politics to help shape South Tyneside, to serve the people of the Borough, and support them to be everything they can be.
Councillor Dixon said: "International Women's Day is an opportunity to pause and reflect on women's achievements. It's also a time to celebrate the remarkable progress that has been made on gender equality over the past years and decades, championed by both women and men.
"This year's theme is #ChoosetoChallenge, a topic which encourages us all to think about how in our lives we can recognise and challenge the biases related to gender.
"I was raised in an era where traditional expectations about a women's place was not typically considered to be in business or politics. However, with the encouragement of family who have helped me choose to challenge then-mainstream views, here I am, serving as the first ever female Leader of South Tyneside Council.
"I'm extremely proud to have had a hand in achieving a big 'first' for women in South Tyneside's politics, but I also know that looking forward, there is still work to do, including using my policymaking role to continue to empower residents and challenge persisting inequalities, whether those are rooted in gender or other protected characteristics."
Heading the Council alongside Councillor Dixon is Councillor Joan Atkinson, who has adopted the role of Deputy Leader, forming a strong female pairing in the top two positions at the Council.
Councillor Atkinson has been an Elected Member since May 2011 and represents Cleadon and East Boldon where she has lived for over 40 years. She has previously held Cabinet portfolios covering Children, Young People and Families, Area Management and Community Safety and now has responsibility for Culture and Leisure alongside her Deputy Leader role.
Councillor Atkinson said: "This is a day that connects people around the world, promotes women's issues and rights and celebrates women's achievements. Whatever our gender or role, as a colleague, relative, friend or parent, we can #ChoosetoChallenge barriers or behaviours that prevent our girls and women being all they can be.
"Women in many constituencies have contributed to local policy and decision making and played their part in the communities we live in now.
"From women first getting the vote in 1918, political and gender equality has come a long way, but it is timely to reflect on what remains to be achieved to ensure voices of women are heard in decision making and their participation supported.
"I am delighted to be Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council alongside the first ever female leader and hope our roles inspire both young women and adults across the Borough to pursue their ambitions and champion gender equality."
On International Women's Day, Monday 8 March, South Tyneside Council will share a film on its social media channels featuring some inspirational South Tyneside women with their own stories about challenging expectations placed upon them.
South Shields Town Hall will also be lit up to celebrate women in South Tyneside and beyond.