COLUMN: Lucy Frazer on from college to MP exhibition

Lucy Frazer MP talks about Newnham College’s exhibition 'From Newnham to Westminster: A Portrait of MPs Past and Present'.

Lucy Frazer MP talks about Newnham College’s exhibition 'From Newnham to Westminster: A Portrait of MPs Past and Present'. - Credit: MP LUCY FRAZER'S OFFICE

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to Newnham College’s exhibition ‘From Newnham to Westminster: A Portrait of MPs Past and Present.’

This exhibition, organised by the Newnham Politics and Debating Society and the Newnham College Staff, celebrated the achievements of Newnham alumnae who went on to be elected as MPs.

It is no great surprise that Newnham has been the home of some of the UK’s most pioneering female politicians.

It has, after all, been the home of a number of women who made great advancements in their respective fields including Rosalind Franklin.

Nevertheless, it was fascinating to learn more about their alumnae, which included Helene Hayman, who was the first to become pregnant whilst a sitting MP.

She faced significant discrimination as a result, but who went on to be a Government Minister and the Lord Speaker.

It also included Susan Lawrence, who campaigned for improved working conditions for women in factories, and Mary Hamilton, who campaigned for equal pay during the middle of the twentieth century.

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During my visit, I met some current students, including Charlotte and Mia, the co-chairs of the politics and debating society.

I am glad to see that the society is back up and running after a long period in abeyance.

This is an achievement which is all the more impressive considering that many events have moved online over the course of the pandemic.

I hope to see many of them make their own journey from Newnham to Westminster in the future.

Organisations like the Debating and Politics Society continue to play an important role in encouraging young women to develop their public speaking and confidence, standing them in good stead was they pursue their own careers.

Whilst the UK has made great strides in improving female representation in many walks of life, it is clear that more needs to be done.

In 2016, I had the privilege of hosting the Women in Public Service event at Newnham College, which brought together 14 highly experienced speakers from the public sector, each of which shared their advice with women who were interested in public service.

I look forward to having the opportunity of working with the college, and other centres of education, in the future.