Today we marked 100 years since some women were given the right to vote and stand in parliamentary elections. This was a huge milestone that women suffered and died for.
I am proud to have become the 419th female MP but we need to ensure that more women are able to take part in our democracy and use their talents to stand for and be elected to public office.
Both Houses of Parliament have many talented and brilliant female parliamentarians and our democracy and our country will be better as we increase the number of us.
A record number of women were elected to Parliament at the 2017 general election – but there is still a lot more work to do.
I want to see more women in politics and more women representing the Conservative Party at all levels.
That is why I have been celebrating this milestone and using it as an opportunity to encourage more women to stand as candidates.
To commemorate the centenary I have been meeting women across my Lewes constituency over the weekend encouraging them to get involved in politics and public life.
The government announced £5 million to help celebrate women’s suffrage and to encourage more women to engage in our democracy.
It will fund activities in the cities and towns with strong links to the campaign for women’s suffrage and allow local communities to apply for money to run celebratory events.
Theresa May and the Conservatives have a proud record of promoting women in politics.
The first woman to sit in the House of Commons was a Conservative – and we were the first party in the western world to elect a female Prime Minister.
The current Prime Minister co-founded Women2Win, appointed a female vice-chair to our candidates department and appointed me as vice-chair for women to look at how we can get more female candidates.
And we are working hard in government to give women greater financial security, ensure equal opportunities in the workplace – so there’s no glass ceiling – and are working to end violence against women and girls.
During a debate in the House of Commons chamber today, led by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, I was delighted to highlight how successful East and West Sussex have been in electing female MPs and councillors. The Home Secretary, who represents Hastings and Rye, is herself a leading example.
At the start of the day I joined other female parliamentarians and the Prime Minister in Westminster Hall and the Central Lobby of Parliament for an event to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage.
The original Representation of the People Act 1918, the law which gave the vote to women, was on display along with other suffragette artefacts.
They remind us of what was achieved. There remains much more to do.
Maria Caulfield is the MP for Lewes, a former member of Brighton and Hove City Council and was recently promoted to the Conservative Party’s vice-chair for women.