FEMALE leaders in the emergency services across Worcestershire are sharing what International Women’s Day (IWD) means to them.

The theme on Friday, March 8 is Inspire Inclusion with the aim of the campaign to collectively forge a more inclusive world for women.

Michelle Brotherton, non-emergency services operations delivery and improvement director at West Midlands Ambulance Trust, has 30 years of experience in the service since joining aged 16.

She is also currently assistant chief ambulance officer and remains an operational paramedic.

Michelle said: “When I started, we had a handful of operational female emergency staff and we now make up 50.15%. Overall, across all staff, the split is 51.6%.

“This demonstrates how much work West Midlands Ambulance Service has undertaken to not only attract female team members but also increase female staff throughout the ranks.

“Reflecting back to where we were when I started, it’s amazing to see the progress.

“I’m really proud of my career, joining as a 16-year-old straight from school, and also raising four children whilst managing my job.

“Obviously, you need a good infrastructure and support network but if I can do it so can you!”

Sam Pink, area commander and assistant director of response at Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, is in agreement.

She said: “As someone who spent most of my career in a male-dominated sector and as a female senior leader in a fire and rescue service, I recognise that promoting diversity, equality and inclusion is not a goal. It is a responsibility.”

The service’s employee network groups play a critical role in helping Sam and the team appreciate differences and create forums to build a culture of empathy and respect.

She continued: “At Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service women can see themselves represented at all levels of the organisation.

“Almost 40 per cent of the service’s corporate board is comprised of female directors. This is only the beginning.

“We wholly support the Inspire Inclusion theme in creating an equitable and inclusive workplace for all team members.

“Everyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age and religion, wants to work for an organisation that prioritises their health and well-being, promotes education and career opportunities and provides opportunities to develop.”

Detective Inspector Liz Warner is a public protection criminal justice inspector, part of the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) taskforce and Women of West Mercia staff network (Wow) lead.

Liz is proud the staff network now has a membership of over 500 women, all engaging in creating change, supporting each other and making friends.

She said: “Women have the power to create change by being confident in speaking up and being heard.

“We need to challenge when appropriate, be confident in making suggestions and embrace our traditional ‘feminine’ qualities as our superpowers.

“Every day I am amazed by the power of our collaboration. Happy International Women’s Day everyone!”