Campaigner Jo ‘humbled’ to be at Women of the Year lunch

Jo Rust, centre, at the Women of the Year Lunch and Assembly with fellow attendees Dianne Hill, left

Jo Rust, centre, at the Women of the Year Lunch and Assembly with fellow attendees Dianne Hill, left, and Cathy Pound. - Credit: Archant

A leading political activist in west Norfolk has said she was humbled to attend the prestigious Women of the Year lunch and assembly in recognition of her work campaigning on women's issues and other causes.

Jo Rust was nominated to attend the high-profile event in London's Park Lane by Megan Dobney, regional director for the Trades Union Congress, who said Mrs Rust had inspired other women in the workplace as one of the few to hold leadership positions in the trade union movement.

Mrs Rust, who is secretary of both the King's Lynn and District Trades Council and North-West Norfolk Constituency Labour Party, has led campaigns on a range of issues, including a series of Women for Change talks to discuss women's issues and a demonstration outside the Queen's Sandringham estate in protest against the 'bedroom tax'.

She also organised the inaugural meeting of the Fenland People's Assembly in King's Lynn, which is designed to act as a grassroots movement to campaign against austerity measures.

She said the lunch 'reinforces to me the vital contribution women in all walks of life make – but that much of it is under the radar'.

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The 47-year-old, of Gayton Road, King's Lynn, added: 'The word you kept hearing was how humbling it was. It was how it felt to me too.'

She said many of those present at the event had never regarded what they do as particularly special.

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She added: 'Unless you're a celebrity in some way, a lot of the things that women do is unseen.'

That is partly because some people may not shout about what they do, Mrs Rust said, but might also be a sign that many areas are still male-dominated.

Politics is one example, she added. 'Although we are making great inroads it is still male-dominated,' Mrs Rust said. 'We have whole committees where men are making decisions about men and women.'

She added that it was still the case that women 'might have to work a lot harder' to get the to top as a result – but that their work was often 'extraordinary'.

Mrs Rust also said the event at the Incontinental Hotel on Monday gave her a great chance to talk to other women about the work they do.

Beforehand Mrs Rust said it was important females take an active role in political life where possible. 'Women need to take a more active part because we've seen how these cuts have had a bigger impact on women than men,' she said.

The Women of the Year lunch and assembly is held every year and is designed to celebrate the achievements of ordinary women across the country.

A spokesman for the event said: 'Each guest is regarded as a Woman of the Year and represents not only herself but the millions of extraordinary women who make a difference every day.'

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