Susan Aitken: leading an unashamedly feminist SNP City Government in Glasgow

My message to women and girls on International Women’s Day is: don’t let anything stand in your way. You will encounter sexism in your life and as you try and make your career but don’t let it stand in your way. Stand up to it. 

Rely on other women to support you because they will and any woman who has managed to be successful in life will tell you that she’s been supported by other women along the way. Seek that support but don’t take no for an answer and don’t let sexism or outdated attitudes to what you can do as a girl or a woman stand in the way of what you can achieve with your life.


Many, many SNP women have inspired me over the years but one who I remember with incredible fondness was Margaret Ewing, who I was lucky enough to get to know. Margaret went about being a politician in absolutely the way she chose to do it and she didn’t let any nonsense or any sexism stand in her way.

She became an elected politician at a young age when there weren’t many women in the House of Commons at all and very, very few from Scotland. Margaret just ploughed her own furrow for the SNP and for independence.

She was fiercely intellectual and she didn’t hide it, but she was also enormous fun and her personality shone through a lot, which is sometimes what women in politics find hard to do. We feel we have to hide the personal side of ourselves because it maybe makes us more vulnerable. Margaret never hid her real personality and her sense of fun and she was also an extraordinary representative for her constituents.

Margaret stands as a real example of how to be a woman in public life without losing your sense of identity or losing a sense of who you are, what you stand for and how you want to go about achieving your aims in politics.


I am only the second-ever woman to lead Glasgow City Council and the first one for about 30 years. Winning that election in May 2017 was historic. And I am very proud to say I work alongside some incredibly talented women in my group in the political leadership including our Lord Provost Eva Bolander.

The one very big issue that we have to deal with, which we inherited, was the long-standing fight for equal pay in Glasgow. Many low paid women have been waiting for over a decade for their claims against historic pay discrimination to be settled.


We have made a start on doing that since the SNP were elected to lead the council and I am confident that within a few months we will finally see an end to that long running fight. When we do, we will enter a new era of pay equality in Glasgow City Council where we ensure that women’s work is valued as it should be and is not devalued in relation to the work of men, as it has been for as long as women have been in the workplace.

Whilst I am leader, the administration of the City Government will be an unashamedly feminist one. We will have women and women’s priorities and family priorities absolutely at the centre of our policies, in the political decision-making process.

Susan Aitken is the SNP leader of Glasgow City Council