Tag Archives: scottish liberal democrat women

Tackling everyday sexism in the Lib Dems

I love Emma Walker. I really do, and not just Emma the badass who stunned the Scottish Party with the first known use of the word “vulva” on the conference stage or her tales of intrepid recruitment adventures, including everyone’s favourite bra fitter. The Emma I love is someone who in the two years I’ve known her has stood beside me in every step I’ve taken in my Chairship of Scottish Liberal Democrat Women, who has bought me more pizza than I’ve ever returned, and who’s dried my tears so many times whenever I’m overwhelmed or heartbroken, no matter what she was dealing with in her own life.

It’s that Emma who has stunned so many this week with her brave video detailing some of the gender discrimination she has faced within the party, ranging from the mundane to the allegedly criminal. Her post has now been viewed thousands of times and has triggered an avalanche of support.

It’s hard to describe how I’ve felt watching women and men comment on the post expressing their shock, sadness and support. Too many have said they have experienced similar problems within politics. The bravery of the women who have sent me their stories, insisting I use them to do anything in my power to effect change has had me crying over my laptop more than once. Truly, the #GirlsSupportingGirls spirit is out in force.

Our party has done so much good work on gender equality, and I have been proud to watch Lib Dem legislation such as Shared Parental Leave and Pay Gap Reporting make a real difference to people’s lives, and I know that our party is bursting at the seams with principled and passionate intersectional feminists willing to do the hard work to make our society fairer and more equal for everyone.

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Help create liberal sex work law in Scotland – consultation ends today

Scottish Liberal Democrat Women have been at the forefront of ensuring the Scottish party has a workable policy that secures the rights and safety of sex workers. Jean Urquhart MSP (Highlands and Islands, Independent) has proposed a Bill that is in agreement with this policy, and the Bill consultation is ongoing. Sadly, we are too close to the elections for Holyrood to officially start the Bill process – Members’ Bills can only be introduced up until June of the penultimate year of the session. However, it’s important that we have a framework to build from in the next Scottish Parliament – and, of course, as many Lib Dem MSPs as possible to support the change! This is our contribution to the consultation process.

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“No holds barred” discussion on sexism in Lib Dems to take place in Scotland

About a year and a half ago, I wrote an article about how the behaviour of some men was driving women out of politics. I said:

I’ve seen good women driven away from active politics out of sheer exasperation at the way powerful men exclude and demean them. Participation in politics should not require putting up with such behaviour and politics itself is better when it more accurately reflects the society we live in.

A start would be for us all to be much more aware of our behaviour and that of others. Men in powerful positions, have a look at your own behaviour. Do you exclude women, do you behave aggressively towards them in a way that you would never do to a man? If so, change your behaviour. Decide that you won’t do that in future. It’s not difficult.

The rest of us need to look out for women who are being treated like this and challenge disrespectful behaviour. Even if we don’t agree with what they say, we should always support their right to be heard and treated with dignity. Let’s tackle our everyday sexism.

The comments thread that followed was dominated by men, some more helpful than others, but, behind the scenes, so many women contacted me privately to share their experiences of sexism not just in our party but in others. I don’t for a minute think that our party is any more sexist than society or other political parties, but that’s not to say that we should just put up with it. This party needs to show that it is a welcoming place for everybody.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 37 Comments

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