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Hilary Barry reveals her suffragette ancestry

Hilary could not be prouder of the fact her great-great-great aunt was regarded as a rebel in her day.

When Hilary Barry co-hosts TVNZ’s coverage of election night 2017 next month, it will be a particularly poignant moment for the beloved broadcaster.

Hilary, nee Pankhurst, proudly reveals to The Australian Women’s Weekly in this month’s issue, that her “great-great-great aunt” was political activist Emmeline Pankhurst – the leader of the British suffragettes, who fought for women to win the right to vote.

“Our family has always been so proud of our connection to Emmeline, and she’s always been a really inspiring historical figure in my own life,” says Hilary.

Emmeline was regarded as a rebel in her own time. The founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, she was imprisoned countless times for using militant tactics – throwing rocks, and inciding vandalism and arson – to agitate for women’s suffrage. She died, aged 70, just before British women were given full voting rights in 1928.

Hilary, 47, says this year’s election got a whole lot more interesting after Jacinda Ardern stepped up to lead the Labour Party, which had until then been wallowing in the polls.

“The buildup to the election was slowing pottering along, and then it got a little more exciting didn’t it?

“The great thing about having a new young leader of an opposition party is that it will energise a younger group of people. Historically, so many young people just haven’t voted, and to have more of them engaged in the political process and then voting would be fantastic.”

The broadcaster holds huge respect for women politicians, who she was dealt with throughout her lengthy career.

“Across the political spectrum there are good, strong women doing great work. But I think we need more.”

Hilary talks more about politics – including why Jacinda Ardern should not have been asked that controversial question – as well as working women, raising teenage sons, walking away from her glittering career at TV3 two years ago, and what moving from working nights to early morning starts has meant for her family in the September issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, on sale now.

For more see the September issue of Australian Women's Weekly magazine.