This year marks a century since women first gained the right to vote. Today thousands of women across Scotland shape our movement and thousands more built it. To mark the centenary of women’s suffrage, we are highlighting 100 women who represent the SNP in 2018.
Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South since 2015 and the youngest MP in 350 years.
Mhairi’s message to young women who want to get involved in politics today: “Have courage of conviction. Know your stuff inside and out and don’t be intimidated.”
Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council – only the second woman to hold that office.
On International Women’s Day 2018, Susan Aitken said: “While 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.”
Councillor Mhairi Hunter, Convener for Health and Social Care Integration on Glasgow City Council.
On why she’s involved in politics, Mhairi Hunter said: “I was brought up in a political household so it was quite normal to be involved in politics and be active. What makes me continue to be involved is just believing people together can achieve a fairer society and can improve the quality of life for people.”
Councillor Rhiannon Spear represents Greater Pollok on Glasgow City Council and is an elected member of National Council.
On her own personal experience in politics, Rhiannon said: “My experience of being a young woman in politics is the very reason why I will continue to campaign for change. My experiences of sexism has been frequent and at times severe. No party is immune but within the SNP I have found a space that allows my voice to be heard and allows me to encourage more young women to let their voices be heard, long may that continue.”
Councillor Christina Cannon represents Springburn/Robroyston on Glasgow City Council and is Convener of SNP Students.
On the centenary of women’s suffrage, Christina said: “Celebrating 100 years of women getting the vote is a fitting time to reflect on how far we have come in the fight for equality but also how far we have to go. With on-going issues like everyday sexism and pay inequality we must stand up to challenge this culture that creates so much gender inequality. An increased number of women in politics is a great start, but we are not a statistic, we are here to stand up for women’s rights.”
Anum Qaisar Javed is an SNP activist in Falkirk.
On her political inspirations, Anum has said: “I have always been fascinated with politics and current affairs. I grew up hearing about strong women such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Over the years I have seen women from different communities, such as Malala Yousafzai, stand up for their rights and I am continually inspired by them. However, women are still underrepresented in politics. BME women even more so. Whilst we have come very far, there is still a very long journey ahead.”
Councillor Michelle Campbell represents Erskine and Inchinnan and is the Council Group Secretary.
On her hopes for the next 100 years, Michelle said: “As a women in politics, I work hard to rid gender typical views when I am working with some who may be assumptive – that is the challenge and I will always push for progress. My hope for the next 100 years is this becomes a history lesson and is no longer a relevant issue. In Scotland, we are at the helm of this progress and I am proud to be a women in politics within the SNP.”
Stacey Adam is a long-standing SNP activist, has held various organisational roles for the party and is passionate about Paisley.
Looking back at her time in politics, Stacey said: “I have led a very lucky life as I have been surrounded by independent strong women all my days. My family have been loving and supportive always: no obstacles were ever put in my place. The town I live in and love, Paisley, has always been there too. What I would like to see is for everyone to have the same opportunity and support I got as going into politics is not a job but a vocation. If done properly it is all consuming but well worth it.”
Rona Mackay is MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden.
On delivering a better Scotland for future generations, Rona said: “I have been very lucky to have had strong, inspirational female role models throughout my life, leading me to feel able to be involved in politics. I am particularly proud of our party and how many female representatives we have. To me, it is so important we all work together and have as many women as possible in leadership roles to achieve a better and fairer Scotland for future generations.”
Kirsty Jarvis is an SNP activist in Fifeand local branch office bearer.
On the importance of this centenary, Kirsty said: “100 years ago women won the right to vote, today we can vote, stand in elections and become the First Minister of our country. Women have just as much of a platform and as much of a right as men to make a difference to our society and have their voices heard and to represent the voices of other woman.”
Christina McKelvie is MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse and Minister for Older People and Equalities.
On the contribution of women who campaigned for the vote, Christina said: “It has been 100 years since some women got the vote and that was a real turning point for many women in search of equality. We have come a long way since then but with unequal pay, gender stereotypes and women still experiencing sexual harassment in the work place we still have a long way to go. I know that together we can make progress just like our suffragist sisters 100 years ago. The world is changing and women are at the forefront of that change!”
Clare Adamson is MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw and Convener of the Education and Skills Committee.
On breaking down barriers in the workplace, Clare said: “Thanks to the tireless work of thousands of women over the last hundred years, we have achieved great progress. However, it is still obvious that today women from all women from all walks of life still face institutional bias and we have to continue to move forward towards true equality.
“Prior to becoming involved in politics, I worked in the male-dominated IT industry and became all too aware of the issues women still face in the workplace every day. I’m really proud that the SNP remains committed to empowering young women and I am pleased to see more women represented in politics and in STEM than ever before. We must remain steadfast until we see true equality in representation, pay and in the boardroom.”
Clare Haughey, MSP for Rutherglen and Minister for Mental Health.
On continuing the fight for equality, Clare said: “The right to vote for all women was just the first step on a long road to equality but we still have some way to go on this journey to achieve true equality. Women the world over still face huge barriers including to education, healthcare and economic independence. The fight goes on and I am happy to stand with my sisters here and across the globe to demand parity.”
Ruth Maguire is MSP for Cunninghame South.
On how it is ‘deeds not words’ that matter, Ruth said: “We’ve come so far since 1918 but we’re not there yet, amongst the myriad of inequalities girls and women are faced with we remain stubbornly underrepresented in politics and public life. If you are a women who cares about her community, her country, know that your voice, your ideas and your opinions matter and need to be heard.
“And for me and my colleagues in Parliament and Council chambers, it is not good enough for us to say, ‘Well, I’m here, so that’ll do.’ We need to do everything in our collective power to break down the structural barriers that are in the way of others, in particular BME women and women with disabilities. Deeds not words as our sister suffragettes would have said.”
Margaret Ferrier is an SNP activist and member of the National Executive Committee.
On encouraging other women into politics, Margaret said: “You can achieve that political dream. My advice: get involved in the party, be willing to constantly learn and grow. Find a mentor, someone you admire and who inspires you. Be alert and look out for talent and potential in other women within the party and actively encourage them on their political journey. There is still an under representation of women in politics. In the 2015 General Election 29 per cent of women were elected, myself being one of them. In last years snap General Election it increased to 32 per cent, still not good enough. Therefore we do need more women to get involved at all levels of government. You could be one of them. Go for it.”
Erin Mwembo is an SNP activist in East Lothian and local branch office bearer.
On getting involved in politics, Erin said: “Over the last 100 years, we have made huge progress in equality. I’m so lucky to live in a time where strong, inspiring women are in positions of power and challenging the status quo. These women have made me feel like I have a place in politics, a place to make my voice heard, a voice that is as valuable as any one else’s. I joined the SNP to make my voice heard, after feeling incredibly empowered by the likes of our first minister. Although we have made progress, there’s still more to be made. We are only going to near genuine gender equality by getting more and more women involved in the decision process and in male-dominated industries. To people interested in getting involved: Do it. For the now and for the future.”
Gillian Martin is MSP for Aberdeenshire East and Convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee.
On improving the political environment to encourage women to get involve, Gillian said: “It’s getting slightly better but more female voices on television, radio, in newspapers and events panels talking about political issues is an absolute must – if we’re not seeing women represented in any of those arenas it needs challenged. The Holyrood press pack is overwhelmingly male and I think it has an effect on the discourse. I hope in a future independent Scotland we’ll be able to leave the adversarial patriarchal style of politics behind that despite efforts to be different we seem to have inherited from Westminster and have a more can-do collaborative progressive style like our Nordic friends seem to have and that will encourage more women to stand.”
Mridul Wadhwa is an SNP member and human rights activist based in Edinburgh.
On ensuring the voice of trans and migrant women is heard, Mridul said: “As a trans and migrant woman, my activism is about ensuring that migrant and trans women’s issues are on the table on an equal footing when policy is formulated. I want to ensure that we are not an afterthought or looked on with pity, and that we are not invited to the table long after discussions and policies have been made and planned.”
Councillor Katy Loudon is the Chair of Education Resources at South Lanarkshire Council and secretary of Cambuslang branch.
On her own journey to elected office, Katy said: “I became active in politics because a woman chapped my door during the independence referendum and asked me to campaign with her. I’d always had an interest in politics, but it took that simple act to engage me. With the support of other amazing SNP women, I eventually stood for election. I’ve tried to pay that forward, and support others as they find their political voice. I hope that my daughter’s generation fill our political forums with more women’s voices, and feel empowered to do so.”
Maree Todd is MSP for the Highlands and Islands region and Minister for Children and Young People.
On how far we’ve come and how far we’ve got to go, Maree said: “We have come a very long way in 100 years. My grannies had only two choices for careers – domestic service or following the herring. Not only did I have the chance to get a science degree at university, I now serve in Government!
“We still have a long way to go though. I hope that my doing this job, inspires girls growing up in the Highlands and Islands to believe they can do anything – including politics. We might be a bit reluctant to put ourselves forward still, but when we do speak up, we speak well and make a difference.”
Julie Hepburn is a long-standing SNP activist and member of the National Executive Committee.
On her motivation for political activism, Julie said: “I’ve been a member of the SNP for almost two decades, and while political activism can be tough at times, for me it’s been an overwhelmingly positive and empowering experience.
“Politics is the vehicle through which we achieve change, and I am determined to help change our communities and our country for the better. Securing independence for Scotland is the single most important change we can make to deliver a fairer society and better life for everyone who lives here. That’s why I’ve dedicated my adult life to campaigning for independence.”
Kirsten Oswald, member of the National Executive Committee and Convener of Eastwood Branch.
On female representation, Kirsten said: “Coming from a family of strong independent women, it has always been clear to me that women must be at the heart of community and national life and it is hugely empowering to work with SNP members who are so committed to making this a reality across Scotland. There is no doubt we have made significant progress in the 100 years since women were granted the vote, but there remains much to be done. I know that #ScotlandCan lead the way on this, recognising that equality for women ultimately benefits us all.”
Councillor Laura Brennan-Whitefield represents Ayr North on South Ayrshire Council.
On the challenge to get more women into local government, Laura said: “I would encourage all woman to become politically active, I studied politics at university and knew from day one it was what I wanted to do. You can make a real positive difference to peoples life’s and I am honoured to be elected by the people of Ayr North. I would say that women have made great leaps but it’s clear we are still nowhere near 50/50 representation particularly at local government level.”
Councillor Siobhan Brown represents Ayr West on South Ayrshire Council.
Reflecting on the centenary of women’s suffrage, Siobhan said: “This year we celebrate 100 years since some woman won the right to vote in the UK. This was a significant step in the right direction for democracy and equality. In 2018, the fight for equality continues as women are still underrepresented in politics and equal pay. We still face challenges getting people to engage and understand the importance of their vote. It is so important that people understand that their vote has power and we can change things for the better!”
Chelsea Cameron is an SNP activist and Young Scot of the Year.
On the contribution of women who came before her, Chelsea said: “As a young women and as Scottish Young Person of the Year, I am constantly thinking about the responsibility and value of my voice. There has been immeasurable improvements over the years for women’s rights and I am so grateful to the women who put everything on the line so the modern woman could have a voice and be valued – what a privilege. I am still very aware of current inequalities and I hope to see the female voice to be continuously represented in finance, boardrooms and the debating chamber.”
Kaukab Stewart is a long-standing party activist and convener of her local branch.
On equality and campaigning for a better future, Kaukab said: “I have campaigned tirelessly for equality and equity for women in my own right and as part of the SNP. I would encourage all women to become active, increase our visibility and campaign for further change. Currently I am Convener of Kelvin which is one of the biggest SNP branches and thoroughly enjoy it. In the SNP you will find the support and encouragement to help shape a fairer future.”
Màiri McAllan is a party activist and organiser of her local branch.
On her aspirations for the future, Màiri said: “Those revolutionary advances in women’s modern history – including gaining the right to vote, to own property and to access contraception – have all centred on liberating women and allowing us to take control of our lives, health and future. My hope is that, in not so many years to come, we can finally end violence against women and close the gender pay gap.”
Cailyn McMahon is the National Equalities Officer for the YSI and local branch office bearer.
On delivering a better Scotland for future generations, Cailyn said: “My own priority in my activism is to ensure that gender equality is at the heart of everything I, and the party do. We have the likes of Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst and the many brave women who fought alongside them to thank for our ability to contribute to politics. But it is now our responsibility to never give up the fight, so that the young women who come after us never face the hardships of institutionalised sexism.”
Morag Fulton is Convener of the Disabled Members Group and local branch office bearer.
On empowering women, Morag said: “We need to support and encourage women from grassroots level and up, to give women the confidence and self belief that they can and should be part of making our communities better for everyone. It is only by empowering women in this way that we as a party, as a society and as a country can reach our full potential.”
Stacy Bradley is the National Organisation Convener for the SNP.
On her motivation, Stacy said: “Independence to decide my destiny for myself personally and democratically, and independence for all the people of Scotland to decide their futures is what motivates me to be politically active. The huge amount of change that has been achieved in the last 100 years makes that involvement possible for us all. I believe that by taking steps towards a better future for our nation, women’s involvement in politics at every level can be enhanced. I’m determined to be a valid contributor in this, because the more women who lead by example, the more confidence will grow in our ability to participate and succeed.”
Councillor Kirsteen Currie represents North, West and Central Sutherland and is a member of the Standing Orders and Agenda Committee and the Disciplinary Committee.
On being a female representative, Kirsteen said: “Scotland has come so far and as a party we aspire to be even more progressive when it comes to the involvement of women in politics, but there is still a lot more work to be done. Being a woman in politics is a privilege, but at the same time a bit of a curse. I know many other females in politics don’t experience the same things I do, but in turn, many other women do. Be kind, show respect and work together – for independence.”
Councillor Ellen Forson represents Clackmannanshire South and is the Local Government Convener for the SNP.
On participation in politics, Ellen said: “We’ve come a long way in the last hundred years – but there is still a long way to go to ensure that there is equal representation in politics across society. I am lucky that my upbringing enabled me to be strong, independent and to stand up and have my voice heard. Unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone and one of the reasons I got actively involved in politics. Evidence shows that the more women there are participating in politics, the better the outcomes for everyone and that’s why I’d encourage more women to get involved.”
Julia Stachurska is a party activist and member of the Disciplinary Committee.
On ridding society of sexism, Julia said: “Sexism in society exists, but it is our job to evict it from our lives forever. Through working together as a team, we can all ensure that there is no misogyny, sexism, inequality or discrimination around us. Women are not a statistic, we are all someone, and we are here to change the world. And to every woman in politics: No matter what you do, double check it, add some glitter, and make yourself shine.”
Fiona Robertson is the National Women’s and Equalities Convener for the SNP.
On her hopes for the future, Fiona said: “I joined the SNP because I realised they were the only party actually working to help disabled people. I hope the generations who follow won’t have to keep fighting the same battles again and again. For them to live in a world where threats and harassment aren’t the cost of being a woman in politics or science or any other field, we must lift each other up, learn from each other. That’s how we’ll transform our society, and it’s how we’ll create a Scotland worthy of her people.”
Fiona Hyslop is MSP for Linlithgow and Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs.
On her activism, Fiona said: “When I first became a political activist over 30 years ago, I was in the minority as a woman and as a woman campaigning for independence. We’ve come so far but I will not rest until independence is the choice of the majority and women have fairness and equality in that independent Scotland.”
Councillor Elena Whitham represents Irvine Valley on East Ayrshire Council.
On becoming politically active, Elena said: “I became political at the age of 15 when a gunman purposefully killed 14 female engineering students at L’Ecole Polytechnique in my hometown of Montreal. I made a conscious decision that I wanted to ensure women’s voices were heard. Local decision-making impacts hugely on women’s lives and my goal is to support many more women into local government to ensure feminism informs policy making.”