International Women’s Day took place earlier this month and it was a chance for me to join with my female MP colleagues to celebrate the journey we have travelled and continue to travel towards equality.
I am actually only the 510th woman to have been sworn-in to the House of Commons and the first for Hertford and Stortford. This means that there are still not enough women elected to parliament in its history to fill the 650-MP chamber we have today.
And only 34% of MPs are female when we represent 51% of the population. A lack of rights has meant we came late to parliament – only being given the vote and the right to be an MP through the 1918 Representation of the People Act.
The intervening 103 years has seen much progress. We have had two women Prime Ministers and two of the four present great offices of state are held by women. Liz Truss is Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary is Priti Patel. However, there remains much to do. We need more women in public life and more representing us if our voices and our views are to be heard and acted on. We need to make further progress on the gender pay gap and we need to end violence towards women and girls.
Many congratulations to The Fish Yard in Bishop’s Stortford’s recent win at the British Kebab Awards 2022.
It was voted the ‘Best Regional Takeaway in the UK ’ – a much deserved accolade. It is important we recognise excellence in our communities and I am always really keen to highlight the incredible successes of our local businesses. I know the team there is very proud of the award.
Away from Parliament, I always have a packed schedule of visits across the constituency. For World Book Day, I read one of Maple Class’s favourite books to them at Avanti Meadows Primary School in Bishop’s Stortford.
It was a pleasure to visit this brilliant school on such an important day. I read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The children were dressed up as their favourite book characters.
I also toured the school and talked with Rhys Jones, the new principal of the soon to open Avanti Grange, and Cimone Brown, headteacher of the primary school.
Many thanks to the head teacher for inviting me and for showing me around such a wonderful school with such a friendly and supportive atmosphere.
Another visit was to Sawbridgeworth Memorial Hall when I visited with some local teachers and school children from Fawbert and Barnard’s Primary School.
The hall houses a stone from the old House of Commons Chamber. It was fantastic to see it in person and be reminded of our area’s central connection to the hub of our democracy.
Finally, I also held a surgery for constituents to discuss their casework issues.
Myself and my team are available to help anyone who has a problem or issue. The Ukrainian situation has led to work as we support constituents with help and advice.