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Sarah Church is the Labour and Co-operative Party Parliamentary Candidate for South Swindon. She stood in the General Election in June 2017. Sarah was an Army Officer for 13 years serving across the UK, with NATO and in the Middle East. She now lives in Shrivenham with her husband Olly and their three young daughters. Sarah is a very active community volunteer, currently working as a Governor at Watchfield Primary School, a Trustee at the Wiltshire Law Centre, as an Information Volunteer with the Royal British Legion and as the Chair of the Old Town Festival Committee.

What is the topic you are planning to address in your speech?

I’ll be speaking about my formative experiences as a young woman growing up in a feminist household where my gender was never considered a ‘barrier’ to my potential. This positive formative experience was a sound foundation from which to launch a first career in a traditionally male field, but also it sheltered me from some of the insidious and damaging prejudices that would then hit all the harder as an adult.

I want to speak about living a feminist lifestyle, that is to refusing to accept barriers and making my way in a “man’s world”. Both my mother and grandmother were inspirational to me in different ways and now I live in a household with a feminist husband where everyone is celebrated for who they are.

– Why did you agree to participate in our IWD event?

When I first heard of the #metoo campaign this year, I thought it didn’t apply to me. Then I stopped to think. Actually, have I suffered the multiple micro-agressions of male colleagues because I am a woman? Yes. Have I ever been intimidated by a man who wanted to exert power over me through aggressive ‘flirting’? Yes. So, it does apply to me, as it does to all of us. We’ve come so far, but there is a journey yet to be made and it is my responsibility as a woman with a voice to make that voice heard.

– What does #pressforprogress mean to you?

Taking inspiration and strength from our sisters of a century ago and pressing on, even in the face of seemingly indomitable obstacles, for the equal pay, equal treatment and respect we women deserve as human beings alongside our male friends and colleagues.