Women and young girls from Croydon quizzed the mayor on a number of issues during a special zoom conference on International Women's Day yesterday (March 8).

The event was hosted by the World Humanitarian Drive (WHD), and featured guests including the Mayor Cllr Maddie Henson, and WHD Founder Dr. Abdul Basit Syed.

They were joined by schoolchildren from the borough, who quizzed the adults in the room on a number of issues related to gender equality and the empowerment of young women and girls.

Cllr Henson began by reflecting on her own role and the reaction to her previous election to become mayor in which all the candidates had been women. 

"It should be perfectly normal to have all women on the slate, and was rightly celebrated. But it shouldn't have to have been.

"It hit home to me how much that shows how society can still be shocked when women stand up to become leaders," she said.

The event was hosted by Viva Andrada O’Flynn, who heads WHD's global media relations.

O'Flynn spoke about the importance of involving women and girls of all ages in the struggle for gender equality.

"Children are the future of this world and if we want a more gender equal society we have to involve children as well," she said.

The video conference also featured a number of readings and musical numbers from the children involved, while the mayor was also posed questions by others.

Two school girls from the borough asked Cllr Henson what her hopes for the future of young people in the borough were, for example, prompting a thoughtful response.

"The obvious starting point is equality. I genuinely have to believe and desire that children growing up in Croydon today will see a more equal society.

"A society that doesn't judge them on their gender, the colour of their skin or how rich or poor their families are.

"Croydon is so lucky that we have the youngest borough by proportion of young people of any borough in the UK," she said.

"It's something Croydon is incredibly proud of and takes very seriously. I want a world where all those young people are given every opportunity to be the best they can be," she said.

To view the zoom in full click here, or here for more information about IWD.