Suffolk council’s constitution will not adopt ‘chair’ instead of chairman

Eleanor Rehahn of Fawcett Society Suffolk
Eleanor Rehahn of Fawcett Society Suffolk
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Suffolk County Council will not be amending its constitutional references to ‘chairman’, it was decided this week.

The council’s constitutional working group met on Tuesday to discuss replacing ‘chairman’ with the gender neutral term ‘chair’.

It followed a request by women’s rights group Fawcett Society Suffolk which firmly believes language is one of the many barriers to women achieving equality to men in public life.

A council spokesman said: “Constitutional references to chairman will not be amended.

“However, Cllr Christopher Hudson has been in correspondence with all councillors currently presiding over meetings of the council, cabinet and committees, informing them that they can decide how they wished to be referred to, for example, chairman, chair, madam chairman.”

Eleanor Rehahn, coordinator of Fawcett Society Suffolk, said the council’s decision was ‘disappointing’ and she considered it had ‘voted against equality’.

She added: “To ensure equality, an institution needs to set the standards for its members to follow, not allow its members to opt in (or out). So there should be one term that sets the standard of equality - ‘chair’.”