I am proud to be representing Wealden in Westminster as its first female MP and to have made a bit of female history as the first female Muslim Minister to speak at the Commons despatch box.
I will always work to encourage more women to become leaders.
In 2015 I pledged that if elected, I would do everything to open up Parliament and encourage young people to get involved, hopefully inspiring the next generation of female campaigners, politicians and leaders. I never grew up with politics and that world seemed alien to me. I’m keen for girls like me, from all backgrounds, to feel they do have a place in leadership positions and their voice matters.
I want to celebrate the contributions made by exceptional women in Wealden and share their stories with the nation.
To mark International Women's Day 2021, I highlighted the incredible contribution to the country by Helen Taylor Thomson OBE, who lived locally in Nutley and was my confidant and adviser. After her key role as codebreaker during WW2, Helen devoted her life to helping our country understand and support people with HIV and AIDS. She founded UK's first AIDS hospice at Mildmay Mission Hospital where in 1989 Diana, the Princess of Wales, famously shook hands with a patient, helping to break HIV-related stigma.
It was my privilege to meet so many incredible Wealden Heroines, who organised support for the vulnerable, championed mental health services, made PPE for the frontline workers, led local businesses and provided essentials to the community.
When we celebrate the phenomenal vaccination programme, we must make sure that the women who play key part in its success are not forgotten. Many times, I highlighted two of the many fantastic Wealden women who are key in the success of the vaccine rollout: Charlotte Luck - Practice Manager of The Meads Medical Centre in Uckfield and Dr Suzie Padgham - Senior Partner at Saxonbury House Surgery in Crowborough.
I’ve previously been working with many organisations across Wealden, such as the Bridge Cottage in Uckfield and Women’s Institute commemorating the centenary of women getting the vote for the first time.
There is still more to be done in advancing the cause of women, and I remain committed to ensuring that women in Wealden feel empowered to reach their full potential and succeed.