The Shadow Home Secretary came to North Yorkshire to meet with businesswomen for International Women’s Day.
In a weekend visit to Wetherby, Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford sat down with five business owners and Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Elmet and Rothwell Veronica King to discuss the opportunities for women in business and the challenges they face.
Ms Cooper said: “What we know is that women starting up their own businesses is very important to the local economy, though it can often be difficult for them to get the appropriate financing.
“It is improving right across the country but growing a business and supporting a family can be really hard work.
“Meeting these Wetherby women and seeing how they manage their family life and what women can do to set up their own business and be flexible shows how important it is that women have the confidence to be able to do these things.”
The businesswomen raised the issues of confidence and self-belief, and spoke about the skills used in raising a family and running a home and how they are transferrable to the business world.
Owner of the Yorkshire Body Clinic Kim Holmes said: “It is hard to run your own business, but now everything I do is down to me.
“It is a lot about a can do attitude. There is nothing I think I can’t do if I want to, and it’s not that I’m brilliant or anything, but if someone else can do it so can I.”
They also talked about the importance of businesses working together in the community.
Owner of dress designers Practically Perfect Sally Newband said: “When customers come to Wetherby we should tell them what we are all about and the best places to go because we want them to come to 20 shops and restaurants, not just one.”
The importance of political representation was also discussed, and Labour was singled out as the party with greater numbers of female candidates at 45 per cent in the shadow cabinet, compared with 20 per cent in the Conservative cohort.
Ms Cooper said: “To meet these impressive women and to hear their stories shows how people want the Labour party to be listening to women and making sure that we are doing what women want.”
Ms King said: “Having a party that is a lot more representative and includes a lot more women is so important.”