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Activists to stage "Lass War" in protest at Northern Powerhouse conference

Women say they'll wear men’s suits, hard hats and high-vis jackets to protest a Northern Powerhouse conference

Pictured: poet and comedian Kate Fox is the brains behind the Lass War protest

Female activists say they will don men’s suits, hard hats and high-vis jackets to picket delegates at a Northern Powerhouse conference – in a “Lass War” protest about under-representation.

The UK Northern Powerhouse conference and exhibition, which takes place at Manchester Central on February 21-22, attracted criticism from MPs after sending out a press release listing 15 speakers at the event – all of whom were men. And out of 98 speakers at the event, only 13 are women.

Poet and comedian Kate Fox has organised the Lass War protest - and is encouraging protesters to dress up and imitate the kind of Northern Powerhouse photographs made famous by the former chancellor George Osborne. During his time as chancellor, Osborne gained notoriety for being pictured in hard hats and high-vis clothing at photo opportunities across the north as he promoted the Northern Powerhouse concept.

Fox said that she was protesting the conference because “it makes the north look sexist and outdated”. She added that she hopes to remind delegates that “there are actual women in the north that they need to take into account”.

A spokesman for the organisers of the Northern Powerhouse conference admitted that women had been “under-represented” as the programme came together, but added that they had already started a dialogue with commercial partners, advisory board members and sponsors to address the issue for next year’s event.

The Lass War protest will take place outside the conference at Manchester Central from 8am on Tuesday 21 February.

Also, in another protest at the lack of women at the event, the chief executives of Doncaster and Wigan councils, Jo Miller and Donna Hall, have organised The People’s Powerhouse in May, which is “aimed at ensuring the inclusivity and people focus of the powerhouse”.

The event is currently scheduled to take place on 9 May at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium.

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