‘Room at the Top’ for Women
And they claim a place there, says M.P.
Finchley Women Citizens' Association celebrated its golden jubilee on Saturday, with a reception at Moss Hall School, West Finchley. One of the women who met to form the association 50 years ago at Church End—Mrs. Elizabeth Helen Panzetta—was there. Mrs. Panzetta (who was then Mrs. Engert) is 85, alert and still very lively. She enjoyed every minute of the celebrations, during which she spoke to Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Finchley's first woman M.P.
As stated in a full account of the association's history in last week's Finchley Press, it was first formed as “Finchley Women's Municipal Association” whose aims were “to awaken the interest of the women of Finchley in municipal affairs” , and, “to ensure the participation of women in local government.”
Since those days the association has provided women councillors, aldermen—and Mayors of Finchley.
Earlier, Mrs. Thatcher had told the 200 members and friends who attended the reception how she had found life in the men's worlds of science and law.
She had studied science at university in wartime— “when women are accepted because they are needed” —and so had encountered no difficulties. ‘But as far as the Bar is concerned, it is still one of the most difficult professions for women” , she said
Some women had succeeded by qualifying and working up a practice in wartime. But after the war it became—and still was—very much more difficult for women.
In local government and parliament women were being accepted, though they were once thought of as “rather peculiar creatures” .
Mrs. Thatcher also pointed out that there was a higher proportion of men than women in the new generation, which would mean fewer single women in the future. “A great deal of the senior nursing and teaching jobs are held by the single woman’.
Married women, presumably, would have to take on such jobs; and it would bring to an end the deplorable phrase: “Why educate her?—she's going to get married anyway” .
Mrs. Thatcher concluded by congratulating the Association on its past record and saying she hoped the next 50 years would be ‘even more wonderful’.
Mrs. M. B. Ridley, widow of the former Rector of Finchley and once a member of the Association, said that a quarter of the members of the Church of England Assembly were women. But, she complained, the Church had not learned to use their best gifts.
The Mayor of Finchley (Cr. W. G. Hart), who was accompanied by the Mayoress (Mrs. Hart), hoped the Association would continue to grow, for a tremendous amount of voluntary service was still needed.
The president, Mrs. M. Robinson, recalled some of the Association's history and introduced the speakers. Also on the platform were Mrs. E. Elkan, secretary for 33 years, Mrs. F. A. Roberts, treasurer for 30 years, and Mrs. C. E. Jarrett, the chairman, who proposed a vote of thanks to the speakers. The deputy chairman, Mrs. A. M. Huggins, was unable to attend because of illness.