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Suffragettes100: MP Julia Lopez for Hornchurch and Upminster remembers the courage of the suffragettes

PUBLISHED: 15:10 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:20 13 February 2018

MP Julia Lopez aims to focus on improving Havering's schools, helping local businesses and healthcare and community services.

MP Julia Lopez aims to focus on improving Havering's schools, helping local businesses and healthcare and community services.

Archant

As we celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage, it is worth thinking about the challenge that faced the campaigners who fought for that momentous change to the status quo.

Pushing against received wisdom can be hellishly difficult, even frightening at times, particularly when you may not believe you hold much power in society.

It requires courage and resilience when it is so often easier just to do nothing.

Imagine the kind of country in which we would be living if those campaigners had decided not to take that risk.

We are the lucky recipients, not just of their sacrifice, but the sacrifice of every Briton who has done the difficult thing over centuries – whether that was fighting a war, standing for election, volunteering in their community or fighting against an injustice they have witnessed.

I was born under a female prime minister, am the Hornchurch and Upminster constituency successor to another female MP in Angela Watkinson, and serve in Parliament under our second Conservative female prime minister – all within the reign of our longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

I have never perceived my gender to be an issue in my career and I encourage all young people to believe that their identity is not a barrier to whatever path they wish to take in life.

Of course you will receive knock-backs from those who believe otherwise but see them as an opportunity to enhance your resilience and resolve rather than to opt out.

Whether a woman now chooses to exercise her right to vote is up to her.

But I would encourage every eligible person in our nation, of whatever gender, to go to the polling booth and enjoy that powerful moment when you get to sway the direction of our collective national endeavour and recall the sacrifices of all those who contributed to your right to be there and the freedoms you now enjoy.

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