A century after we won the vote, 2018 was a totally Mega year for women

I don’t know about you but I can’t even pretend I’m going to be sad to see the back of 2018.

In fact, it’s fair to say it was pretty much an annus ­horribilis.

We have spent the year ­watching the country unravel in a slow, disastrous free-fall, unable to work out how the heck we are going to achieve anything even remotely ­resembling a “good” Brexit.

And it’s still not clear.

The reality is that we can all speculate (or rather Brexulate) until the cows come home.

Sure, it might be a bit like the Millennium Bug in 1999, when people were ­certain we would go into techno-meltdown on the stroke of midnight, only to wake up to a world that was exactly the same.

Then again, there might be difficulties in post-Brexit Britain that haven’t even ­occurred to us yet.

The truth is, we don’t know what life is going to be like after Brexit — and that’s scary.

My husband Paul, who has an Italian passport, said the other day: “After Brexit, am I going to be able to stay in this country?”

And I realised the answer to that is . . . who knows?

This year hasn’t all been bad news.

Interest rates are still low, so people can pay their ­mortgages.

But when people lack confidence about the future, they stop spending.

No one likes uncertainty, and the more uncertain things are, the less people are inclined to make any sudden moves.

There are other good things about this year too.

In some respects, 2018 has been the year of the woman.

What started in October 2017 with the beginning of the #MeToo movement has snowballed into women being increasingly likely to demand — and receive — more equality and more respect.

This was the year a spotlight was shone into the dark corners of the gender pay gap, with employers with 250 or more staff being made to publish their figures comparing men and women’s average pay gap across their firm.

It’s much harder to justify a pay gap that’s out in the open, so this is the beginning of real change.

It is also 100 years since women got the vote, which is something to celebrate.

And this year saw the first statue of a woman — the suffragist ­Millicent Fawcett — erected in Parliament Square. About time too. But still, it’s progress.

And there is no doubt that ­attitudes to women are changing.

We’ve got a second female Prime ­Minister and a female playing the lead in Doctor Who.

And women are rising up. We are organising, ­protesting, shaming and building power.

We are making the women’s movement central to everyone’s conversation. Women are finding their voice.

And the most important thing is we are getting heard.

We are not going to accept mansplaining or being ­spoken down to (or, for that matter, being called a “stupid woman”).

Feminism is the word of the year, with more and more women standing up for themselves and demanding equality, and I predict that process is going to continue in 2019.

Now that I think about it, there were other good things about 2018.

It was the year we rediscovered hope in football during the World Cup.

We did better than we thought we would — and it’s not often we can say that.

The England team and manager Gareth Southgate restored our ­national self-esteem and gave us something to cheer about when there really was not much else.

The World Cup showed us nice guys can win.

Sure, we didn’t bring home the trophy but it’s fair to say Gareth Southgate’s a winner in everyone’s eyes.

And it’s not over yet: 2019 is the women’s football World Cup — so that’s something to look forward to with hope.

Hope is an important word. And now, more than ever, we need to find a way to hang on to the things that make us feel optimistic about the future.

There were other hopeful things about 2018.

This was the year that gave us the breath of fresh air that is Meghan Markle — and it also saw the most stylish royal wedding this country has probably ever seen.

Meghan was a signifier of change for the Royal Family, which needed to modernise.

And while I know some people have decided she is “pushy”, or criticise her for her relationship with her father, I think Meghan is one of the best things that has ever happened to our royals.

We also had a royal baby — Prince Louis — and now we have another one on the way, which is happy news.

My personal highlight of 2018 was having lunch at Buckingham Palace with the Queen.

It really was a wonderful occasion, spending intimate time talking to such an inspiring woman.

(Oh, and my business was also named one of the 250 fastest growing companies in the UK by the Sunday Times, which was a bit of a triumph.)

And now here we are, poised on the brink of 2019.

I’m not a New Year’s Eve ­person. In fact, I’ll probably be having a quiet night in.

I don’t do resolutions. (Well, I do, but they always revolve around weight, smoking and fitness, and I’ve usually broken them all by ­January 3.)

But there are some things I’m ­looking forward to in 2019.

The thing I’m most excited about is the fact that I’m starting my new masterclass, “Get What You Want”.

One of my biggest ambitions for 2019 is to inspire women to find their ­voices, and to identify and achieve their goals.

Because when women feel empowered they are more likely to get the job, pay and respect they deserve.

And what could be more important than that?

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