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Fire Services pledge support for gender equality

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This International Women’s Day (8 March), West Sussex Fire and Rescue, East Sussex Fire and Rescue, Surrey Fire and Rescue and Sussex Police are coming together to pledge their support for gender equality.

This is part of the global HeForShe movement, which calls for men to take action against inequality towards women.

The HeForShe campaign is a global movement created by the United Nations and is supported by 1.3 billion people.

People everywhere understand and support the idea of gender equality. Many recognise it is not just a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue. HeForShe encourages people to move from acknowledgement of inequality, to action; it’s about inviting people around the world to stand together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality.

Between 10am and 12pm at Hove Community Fire Station, Chief Fire Officer for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Dawn Whittaker will be welcoming representatives from across the three services who will be making the pledge and raising the flag in support for HeForShe. The event will be supported Giles York Chief Constable of Sussex Police and Sussex Police staff.

Personal commitments will also be made by senior male officers including Neil Stocker, Deputy Chief Fire Officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and Mark Andrews, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities said: “It is so encouraging to see leaders from these three counties coming together to pledge their support for women’s equality. This year marks one hundred years since the first women were granted the vote in Britain. So much progress has been made since then and I believe that by working together, we will continue to see many positive changes.”

Dawn Whittaker, Chief Fire Officer said: “Standing up and standing out isn’t always easy. Whether it’s as a role model or as an advocate, but doing the right thing is rewarding.  Everyone benefits with HeForShe that’s why it works.   Chris Blackswell was the first Male Fire Officer in the UK to make an organisational pledge to the HeForShe campaign. What that means practically is that he is saying to his workforce that he expects people to support each other, not just when reducing risk but at every opportunity, who wouldn’t want to stand up for that. Together we’re going to be better.”

Sussex Police’s Chief Constable Giles York and Surrey Police’s Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave, global HeForShe Thematic Champions for law enforcement, said: “We are delighted to support our neighbouring fire and rescue services as they pledge today to become HeForShe advocates. We will work closely with our emergency services colleagues to jointly take action to commit to being part of and encouraging others to be involved in creating a gender equal world.”

Media are encouraged to attend the event at Hove Community Fire Station from 10am-12pm on Thursday 8 March. Dawn Whittaker, Neil Stocker and Giles York will be available for interview.

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is at the heart of West Sussex County Council’s Communities and Public Protection Directorate, working to support communities to become safer, stronger and more resilient through a combination of prevention, protection and response activities.