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.
Nicola Sturgeon is the first female First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party.
On the importance of equality for women, the First Minister said: “Celebrating a century of women’s suffrage is a great occasion. Not only does it remind us of women’s achievements – it provides the opportunity to inject new momentum into encouraging more women into politics and public life.
While we’ve come a long way since 1918, much still needs to be done if we are to eradicate gender inequality and create a fairer and more prosperous country. Equality for women is at the heart of our vision for an equal Scotland.
Our resolve is to use the powers we have – powers which in many ways we owe to the suffrage movement – to make the world a better place for the girls and young women who are growing up today.”
Mhairi Black is MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South 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 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.”
Jeane Freeman is MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport.
On the importance of the contribution of women, Jeane said: “Women have so much to offer. In our homes, at work, in our communities – and in politics. Our voices and experiences matter. I am proud to be one of a growing number of SNP women MSPs and to know that I have women who are colleagues in local government and increasingly involved in community activities. But there is more to do.
The energy, humour, expertise and life experience of women across Scotland, mobilised and active – now that would make a real and positive difference. Decisions made about your local services, your neighbourhood, your country – every single one of them affects you and your family and friends. So think about it – what could you do to help shape those decisions and what we could we do to help you? Your voice matters.”
Kirsten Oswald is the Business Convener for the Party, responsible for overseeing operational matters and chairing the National Executive Committee and National Conference.
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.”
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!”
Councillor Mhairi Hunter, Convener for Health and Social Care Integration on Glasgow City Council.
On why she’s involved in politics, Mhairi 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.”
Kirsty Blackman is MP for Aberdeen North and Deputy Westminster Leader
On the importance of diversity in politics, Kirsty said: “I am so passionate about trying to improve parliament to make it better reflect the diversity of those who live in our country. Being a member of parliament should not be a job only for middle-aged men. I believe better laws and decisions are made if they’re proposed and scrutinised by folk from a wide variety of backgrounds. I first became an elected councillor in Aberdeen when I was 21. Politics isn’t about making speeches in parliament or in council chambers – it’s about the people we help every day and the positive impact we can make in our communities.”
Joan Sturgeon is a long-standing SNP activist and former Provost of North Ayrshire Council.
On women leading the way, Joan said: “As the mother of a female political leader I have seen how difficult it can be to be taken as seriously as men in the political arena. Through history it was mainly women though who kept the home, saw to the children and dealt with the tasks thought to be beneath men….that takes strength and determination.
I am proud to have raised two strong women and to look on as my granddaughter uses that influence to shape her future. Equality in every aspect of life is what we should all aspire to and I strongly believe that woman will continue to lead the way in securing a better future for all… not because we have more to prove but because it’s what we do and always have done.”
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.”
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.”
Kate Forbes is MSP for Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch and Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy.
On her advice to other women, Kate said: “My grandmother was born into a world that prevented her from voting by virtue of her gender and, after 1918, by virtue of her class and her age. Today, at age 28, I represent the constituency where she lived. That’s progress, by anybody’s estimation. My hope is that women don’t limit their dreams and aspirations by fear or self-belief – and I preach to myself too. You lose nothing by giving it a go – and even if you don’t get there the first time you’ll be even better prepared the next time. Love others, stay honest and know this is just one moment in time.”
Kay M Ullrich is a former MSP and Party Vice President and founding member of SNP CND.
On the importance of helping other women, Kay said: “I personally have never experienced gender discrimination within the Party, but the lack of women putting themselves forward for election was worryingly low. I have always tried to mentor women to encourage them to put themselves forward for elected office or as candidates. We have certainly come along way in this regard but more has to be done to ensure the women’s voices are heard at all levels of political discourse. Women supporting women is doing just that.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Mairi Gougeon is MSP for Angus North and Mearns and Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment.
On becoming politically engaged, Mairi said: It was the women in my family, my mum and my granny, who got me politically engaged and who encouraged me to play an active role in politics and the SNP. I never perceived my gender as an issue until I was elected to local government for the first time, it was there I saw the massive barriers that women and particularly young women still face. It was that experience that made me a feminist because while much may have changed since 1918, there is still a long way to go.
I want to see women treated equally, I want equal representation for women in our parliament and across our councils. Only when we achieve that, at the very least, can we be a truly equal and representative society.”
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.”
Eva Bolander is Lord Provost of Glasgow.
On her personal experience, Eva said: “The experience of becoming a mother in Scotland made me more politically aware and later active. Having had the experience of growing up in Sweden, being young when the universal childcare reform and other equalities legislation were introduced there made me realise what a fundamental importance these political decisions had for creating a progressive, prosperous and inclusive society. And that is the Scotland I am working for now.
I am currently in a very privileged position, where I can stand up for equalities and human rights, and the more I do so, the better for us all.”
Kirsty Jarvis is an SNP activist in Fife and 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Clare Haughey is 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.”
Councillor Katy Loudon is the Chair of Education Resources at South Lanarkshire Council and secretary of her local 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.”
Rona Mackay is MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden and Deputy Convener of the Justice Committee.
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.”
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 involved, 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.”
Ruth Maguire is MSP for Cunninghame South and Convener of the Equalities and Human Rights Committee.
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.”
Cathie Johnston represents Cumbernauld South on North Lanarkshire Council.
On her advice to women, Cathie said: “B’ e ceum fìor mhath a bh’ ann, ann an 1918, nuair a fhuair boireannaich a bha thar 30 bliadhna a dh’ aois a’ chòir bhòtadh. Bhon uair sin tha boireannaich air fàs nas misneachail gu ìre nan comasan fhèin. Ach, bu mhath leam fhaicinn boireannaich nas làidire nan creideasan fhèin agus ag aithneachadh na neartan aca.“Creidibh annaibh fhèin” “Obraichibh gu cruaidh” “Na dìochuimhnich ur freumhan” “Èistibh ris an fheadhainn gun ghuth.”
“Women over 30 getting the vote in 1918 was a positive step. Since then, women have became more confident in their own abilities. However, I would like to see women being stronger in their own beliefs and acknowledge their own strengths more. Always believe in yourself, work hard and don’t forget your roots – or those without a voice.”
Ash Denham is the MSP for Edinburgh Eastern and Minister for Community Safety.
On representation, Ash said: “It’s 2018 but still neither Holyrood nor Westminster Parliaments have 50/50 representation. Gender balancing measures work, so the political parties that haven’t introduced them should be compelled to.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Christine Grahame is MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale and Deputy Presiding Officer.
On her personal experience in politics, Christine said: “I started campaigning for Independence over 45 years ago and my speciality then was making cupcakes, long before they became sexy, hot water bottle covers, which should now be on the Antiques Roadshow as collectables, and as a general leaflet delivering foot soldier. Winnie Ewing kept the Independence flag flying in the bad times in the eighties and two women directly encouraged me to put myself forward as a candidate for election: Margaret Ewing and Ann Raitte, both no longer around. Ann phoned me one night and badgered me into submission. This was back in the early nineties. The rest is history. The SNP has always been good to helping women find their political feet and long may that continue.”
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.”
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!”
Kaukab Stewart is a long-standing SNP 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 an SNP 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 Womens 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.”
Hannah Bardell is MP for Livingston.
On equal representation, Hannah said: “For our Society to be truly equal and give the same opportunities to all we must have a fair representation of in our Parliaments. I stood for election to the House of Commons because I didn’t see very many young, gay women from a working class background. Seeing ourselves reflected back and having a plurality of voices speaking and legislating on every issue is vital. Those of us already politically involved must support and encourage others to stand for election, get active in our communities and be leaders, supporters and cheerleaders for each other. At the end of the day, you cannot be what you cannot see.”
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 on the Highland Council 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.”
Angela Constance is the MSP for Almond Valley.
On how far we’ve come and how far we’ve got to go, Angela said: “Having been involved in politics since the age of 18 as a student at Glasgow University, I was honoured to be one of the first MSPs to sign up to the Women 50:50 campaign. We’ve made good progress with public appointments and I’m pleased to have led efforts to introduce the gender representation act for public sector boards. Women, who make up 51% of the population, have fought hard for gender equality for many years and we must continue that journey towards a fairer Scotland for all. There’s still plenty to do but I’m confident we’ll get there.”
Julia Stachurska is an SNP 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.”
Dr Nighet Riaz is an SNP activist and Equalities Officer for her local branch.
On the importance of her platform, Nighet said: “As a Muslim woman of colour, academic, mother and grandmother, being an active SNP member, gives me a platform to argue for equality and social justice, for now and our future generations. In policy terms we have progressed, but in reality, we still have a great distance to travel, and parity can only be achieved through collective working for the same causes.”
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.”
Lesley Mitchell is an SNP activist in North Lanarkshire.
On the importance of working together, Lesley said: “I’ve been asked several times “Why would a young woman like you want to get into politics?” The answer is simple; because people are still asking why young women want to be involved in politics. I am so uplifted to live in a time where issues like the gender pay gap, sexual harassment, everyday sexism and violence against women are not just seeing discussion but effective action. There is no pretending we still have work to do and women are being met with barriers everyday – some visible, some not. But in the meantime, let us work together towards a fairer future by being brave and bold – and compassionate.”
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.”
Lorna Finn is an SNP activist in Glasgow.
On the importance of using your voice, Lorna said: “I am politically active because I want to be a participant in the change that I want to see in the world. I look to the future hopeful for my young daughter and a generation of women who will come after me knowing the power of their voice. I have always been political, I have always felt the need to use my voice and participate and I have realised the importance of having women at every table, in every room and every conversation. We have come so far in a 100 years but I do feel like we are only at the beginning of the journey to true equality.”
Dr Eilidh Whiteford is an SNP activist and former MP.
Reflecting on the centenary of women’s suffrage, Eilidh said: “Women in Scotland have come a long way in the last hundred years, but we’re still significantly under-represented in public life, we earn less than men (on average), and around a quarter of us will experience sexual violence or domestic abuse at some point in our lives. My great-grandmother campaigned for women’s suffrage in the Highlands; I often wonder what she would make of the rights, freedoms and opportunities women enjoy today, and what advice she would have for me as we continue the struggle for women’s equality.”
Angela Crawley is MP for Lanark and Hamilton East.
On getting more women involved in politics, Angela said: “If being under-represented in Parliament frustrates you like it did me, perhaps it is time to consider standing for office. The SNP has the structures in place to give you the support you require. Be confident in your opinion, know your brief and make sure your voice is heard. We have come a long way since the first women got the vote, but there is still progress to be made. Join us and help shape the change we all want to see.”
Shirley-Anne Somerville is MSP for Dunfermline and Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People.
On continuing the fight for equality, Shirley-Anne said: “We’ve seen a lot of progress over the last century. Women’s rights are well enshrined in legislation now, but we must keep sight of the reality of gender inequality in our society, such as the gender pay gap and the sexual harassment of girls and women.
“I hope that as my young daughters grow up, the barriers we challenge now will be a thing of the past. Every young girl should be growing up believing that their dreams and ambitions are possible. We have the opportunity and indeed the responsibility to make that happen.”
Farah Farzana is an SNP activist and Women’s and Equalities Officer for her local branch.
On her personal experiences in politics, Farah said: “As a local election candidate, I became aware of the lack of equal and proportionate representation in local authorities. The SNP have led in gender balance but more work needs to be done to create an ethnicity balance too. If we don’t speak up for justice and fairness, then we will only hinder our progress.”
Colette Walker is an SNP activist and Women’s Officer for her local branch.
On her lived experience, Colette said: “As a disabled woman and lone parent who has brought up a disabled child, I had to give up my career to look after my son – relying on social security, fighting for specialised education and respite for him and myself. Now, again, I have had to give up my self employed job of eight years due to caring for my elderly parents, my own disability and now early menopause. I feel I have a true understanding of real life, and can genuinely relate to the issues and barriers that disabled people, carers, the elderly and financially less well off occur daily.
Equality requires equal representation in politics. I am passionate to run to become an elected MSP in 2021 to fill the gaps but to encourage other disabled woman they can do it too.”
Lari Don is a children’s author and a local activist in Edinburgh North and Leith.
On creating our future, Lari said: “As a writer, I spend a lot of time talking to kids about characters solving their own problems. I also tell lots of myths and legends where the girl doesn’t wait for a boy with a big sword to save her from the dragon. My feminism and my support for an independent Scotland come from the same determination not to wait for someone else to define and sort out our problems. Now, the ‘big boy with the sword’ next door is the one causing most of our problems. It’s time to use our votes to create our own future…”
Deidre Brock is MP for Edinburgh North and Leith.
On helping other women, Deidre said: “A century ago some women got the vote. It took ten more years to get the same terms as men. In 2018 politics is a better place, but still an unequal place, and the best tribute to the women who led the way is to keep the campaign rolling.
Reach out a hand to help another woman up; be a role model so girls growing up today know it’s normal to have women in politics; stretch the hand of sisterhood across political divides – you don’t have to agree with her to defend her right to speak; look to the future and work for a better and more equal tomorrow.”
Charlotte Armitage is an SNP activist and National Equalities Officer for YSI.
On her personal experience, Charlotte said: “As a young woman in politics, I know how it feels to be dismissed, or valued only for how I look rather than what I say. It is this reason why it is so important that we continue to campaign for gender equality and societal change, just like our suffrage sisters did before us. We have achieved hugely notable changes in the last 100 years and it is encouraging to see many strong female leaders in Scottish politics today. However, women remain underrepresented, harassed and in threat of violence. To me it is clear there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve absolute gender equality, but I am confident that the SNP is paving the way for an Independent Scotland that has gender equality at the forefront.”
Councillor Marie Burns represents Irvine East on North Ayrshire Council.
On her inspiration, Marie said: “I developed an interest in politics when, as a teenager, I campaigned for Margo MacDonald to win a by-election in my constituency of Govan. She was an inspiration then and is still held dear by many people in Govan. She was particularly inspiring to women and gave many working class women a self-belief that changed their lives. It certainly changed mine!“
Councillor Alison Dickie represents Southside/Newington on the City of Edinburgh Council.
On empowering others, Alison said: “My granny was a strong, talented woman with a big heart, but she didn’t have the opportunities that we women have today. Despite great strides forward, there are still women who don’t have those same opportunities, often due to other barriers in their lives. I entered politics because I love people, hate injustice, and want to make a difference. For me, that starts with empowering more voices to shape our more equal and compassionate society, especially those yet unheard female voices.”
Aileen Campbell is MSP for Clydesdale and Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government.
On continuing the fight for equality, Aileen said: “My granny was born around the time some women got the right to vote. Three generations on, and as an MSP elected to Scotland’s parliament and serving in a government led by a woman, progress has been remarkable- with modern Scotland a changed place to the one my Granny lived in. But even though 100 years have passed, women still suffer deep inequalities at work, in pay, and disproportionately through devastating welfare reforms. And women, even though we’re 50% of the population, are still not found in those numbers in the tiers and spheres of governance in Scotland. That represents potential unrealised, talent unrecognised and points to a battle for equality still to be won. That’s why the spirit of the suffragettes must guide us towards never giving up and never accepting or tolerating inequality. I’m in a privileged position to do what I can to change society for the better and I’m determined it won’t take another three generations before we achieve true equality.”
Robyn Graham is the National Organiser for YSI and local branch office bearer.
On the importance of using her voice, Robyn said: “In history lessons we learn about the momentous achievement in 1918 where some women gained the right to vote. 100 years on and since becoming active in politics I witness everyday the legacy of the women’s suffrage movement. Like these women who came before me, I do not yet have a vote; I am still too young to vote in UK Elections. But that did not stop them from having their voices heard then and it will not stop me from having mine heard today.”
Lisa Cameron is MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow and a member of the Standing Orders and Agenda Committee.
On her hopes for the future, Lisa said: “I want my daughters to know that politics should be about the weight of your argument and not your gender. I sit on the Speaker’s Inclusion Group in Westminster, which is tasked with making the House of Commons more inclusive and accessible to everyone. I have high hopes that true equality between men and women will not take another 100 years to achieve, we are nearly there. All MPs should be working towards equality so we can achieve a representative parliament that serves all.”
Councillor Sarah King represents Armadale, Blackridge, Torphichen and Westfield on West Lothian Council.
On her own journey to elected office, Sarah said: “I had always been interested in politics and joined the SNP about ten years ago, not long after moving to Scotland. I was inspired by the party’s vision, its ambition for our country and its desire to build a fairer, more equal society. I was first elected in 2015, not long after our referendum in which so many of us campaigned so tirelessly and passionately for a better future. It is that energy and that hopeful determination that still inspires me as a woman in politics. To paraphrase Gandhi – we have to be the change we want to see in the world. You can’t change things from the outside. You have to get stuck in.”
Anne McLaughlin is an SNP activist, former MP and local branch office bearer.
On changing attitudes, Anne said: “I am sure any woman around in 1918 would be quite offended if I were to say the progress has been minimal. It just feels like that sometimes but I remind myself how lucky I am compared to them.
Today we have most of the laws we need to protect us against gender inequality. That’s a huge step forward. But laws alone don’t determine people’s attitudes. So that’s where our focus needs to be in the years to come – challenging attitudes and educating people about unconscious bias because most of it is unconscious. And it’s not just men who need to be challenged and educated. It’s women too. You are good enough. You are capable. Your voice is worth hearing.”
Councillor Jennifer Layden represents Calton Ward on Glasgow City Council.
On the the importance of female representation, Jennifer said: “The culture in politics is changing as more women become involved and elected. Getting involved with the SNP and being elected as a councillor has been one of the best choices I’ve made. I would encourage any woman to seriously think about it. It’s hard but rewarding work. Be yourself, build a support network and embrace all the opportunities that come with it. The only way we can affect change is to have more women in politics.”
Roz Currie is an SNP activist and member of the National Executive Committee.
On how far we’ve come and how far we’ve got to go, Roz said: “My mum and sister have been my role models – both fighting for what they believe in with my sister practically leaving home at the age of 16 to live at the Democracy for Scotland vigil. I saw first-hand that we can change the world around us and that women often do the hard graft behind the scenes.
We’ve come along way in 100 years but my time in politics has shown me just how far we still have to go. All too often the voices of women are stifled by the patriarchal political system. I’m proud to belong to a party seeking to change this – not just by words but with actions.”
Roseanna Cunningham is MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire and Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.
On her hopes for the future, Roseanna said: “My grandmother, born in 1893, was unable to vote until 1928 when she was 35 years old. We have come a long way since then, but she was a fierce proponent of women’s rights all her life and would be clear, as am I, that there is still a considerable way to go. I look forward to the day that women in politics cease to be remarkable or in any way unusual – and therefore are spared the constant commentary that is currently our lot!”
Emma Harper is the MSP for the South Scotland region.
On her inspiration, Emma said: “Intelligent, strong and competent women who I worked alongside in the medical field, both in the UK and the United States, inspired me to become a Nurse educator, helping colleagues, who were predominantly female, to achieve better levels of knowledge and skills in their clinical duties. And alongside my goal of seeing Scotland become an independent and fairer country, it was these women who inspired me to become a politician and help the people I now represent in South Scotland.”
Annabelle Ewing is MSP for Cowdenbeath.
On inspiration, Annabelle said: “With Winnie Ewing as my Mum, it was not my reality as a child that women could be anything but equal! But 100 years on from the franchise, there is still work to do. Each of us can be inspired by the other in the SNP family and beyond. For it is to future generations of young women that our responsibility lies. And to win freedom for our country, Scotland needs more women to get involved, women of independent mind!”
Linda Fabiani is MSP for East Kilbride and Deputy Presiding Officer.
On promoting the rights of women, Linda said: “There’s been a lot of pondering about how far women have come since 1918 – a long way certainly but still a long way to go. It’s important that we keep making special efforts to promote the rights of women in all walks of life, and politics is important. I was around 30 before I became an active member of the SNP – hadn’t entered my head previously that I could be ‘useful’ in achieving the best for our country and work for independence. Young women today though have grown up with the Scottish Parliament in their midst and we have to give them the confidence to recognise their worth, to fight for whatever they believe in.”
Rosa Zambonini is an SNP activist in North Lanarkshire.
On the importance of activism, Rosa said: “Women across Scotland are, in many cases, single handedly holding down jobs, raising children, caring, running household and budgeting to keep families afloat; and it’s my passion to ensure these women are engaged in our political system. When the suffragette movement swept the nation women worked side by side, across socioeconomic boundaries, to give us the right to be heard; and we must not let these women down as we move into our political future. Brexit, has landed our nation in a time of real uncertainty and women must take control of their own future by being part of the collective voice moving forward. If, as a single mum, I can reach one woman to say “your thoughts matter”, then my job as an activist is done!”
Shona Robison is MSP for Dundee City East.
On the importance of role models, Shona said: “Through campaigning and perseverance, women’s rights have advanced in areas like fertility, employment and protection from gender violence. With equal representation in the Scottish Cabinet and a female First Minister, progress has been made. Role models are essential; you can’t be what you can’t see. And to other women, I say politics is for you too. But the job’s not done. Unequal pay and career progression, sexual harassment and misogyny in everyday life shows that inequality still remains. As we continue the long campaign for progress begun in 1918, I hope that my daughter and other girls can be all they can be in life.”
Karen Newton is a long-standing SNP activist has held various organisational roles for the party.
On her motivation, Karen said: “Growing up in a working class family I remember the days of Thatcher, the poll tax, the struggles of people around me simply unable to find work. Women were very much second class citizens and were not encouraged to speak up. That was the norm for many women in my family and I decided enough was enough – I had to change that and unless we started making our voices heard and our opinions count then nothing would change. So I joined the SNP. I have held many office bearer posts and ran the local campaign in Edinburgh East for the independence referendum in 2014. Luckily I have never experienced sexism, harassment or discrimination because of my gender but I know people who have. Women can have the self belief that they matter, that they can make a difference, and can aspire to be anything they want to be. “
Cecil Meiklejohn is leader of Falkirk Council and represents Falkirk North.
On the importance of gender balanced administrations, Cecil said: “I am proud to be a female Council Leader of Falkirk Council and to have gender balanced SNP Council group. Local Government can truly benefit enormously from having more women in key leadership positions. We bring a greater diversity and a more collaborative approach to the table that is in keeping with the current political make up within Councils where there is no ruling party enabling good governance in a hostile financial climate”
Marion Fellows is MP for Motherwell and Wishaw.
Sandra White is MSP for Glasgow Kelvin.
On her personal experience, Sandra said: “My own personal path into politics started in Paisley in the 1980’s. I helped set up a nursery group for the local community it then spiralled from there and here I am today MSP for Glasgow Kelvin! Whilst we have higher levels of gender equality in Scottish politics we can always do better and we must continue to champion more women in politics – our voice must be and will be heard!”
Roza Salih is an SNP activist in Glasgow and and Equalities Officer for her local branch.
On hope, Roza said: “Scotland is a great country to live in. I came here as an asylum, now it is my home. Scotland and its people have welcomed me and so many others for who we are. It has given us a fair opportunity to start our life without thinking of war. Scotland is our Sanctuary. SNP has supported this idea and brought hope to so many ethnic minorities to believe that a better world is possible.”
Pam Muir is an SNP activist and organiser of her Constituency Association.
On her experience, Pam said: “I didn’t grow up in a very political family but my mother always worked and voted. I remember her excitement when Winnie Ewing won the Hamilton by-Election – “she had children too you know”. I first became aware of gender inequality in 1968 when I was choosing my subjects at High School. Girls were only to be offered secretarial studies or home economics, and I was refused science subjects. My mother fought my corner and eventually we won – our first successful campaign!
The #metoo campaign has been an eye opener for many, and I hope it has encouraged confidence to speak up and take part. As an SNP member, activist and campaign organiser I have always encouraged women/girls to vote – we need to continue this at all times.”
Patricia Gibson is MP for North Ayrshire and Arran.
On the importance of this centenary, Patrica said: “This is an important democratic historical milestone celebrating the enfranchisement of some women for the first time. This was a hard-fought battle by the Suffragette movement which still inspires women today to seek equal status with men. All women owe a debt of gratitude to the Suffragettes. We must never forget them.”
Tracy Carragher represents Coatbridge South on North Lanarkshire Council.
On calling out sexism, Tracy said: “I am very proud to be an SNP Councillor in the largest female group of Councillors in North Lanarkshire. Women make up just over one third of our group. I would like this to increase to one half. Our party actively encourage women to be involved in politics. Our First Minister is a first-class example of what we can achieve. Unfortunately, we still meet everyday sexism. All too often I see women overlooked and men considered first. We must call this out. Our voices deserve to be and must be heard.”
Carol Monaghan is MP for Glasgow North West.
On the importance of diverse representation, Carol said: “As women we are often self-critical, giving reasons why we aren’t good enough to enter politics, rather than concentrating on our extensive experience and skill sets. I don’t ever pretend that the juggle of family life and politics is easy, but if we want true representation of our society, and want to build a just society for our children, more women must put their heads above the parapet. We have come a long way in the last 100 years but we mustn’t let bias, including that in our own heads, prevent us from using our valuable voices.”
Joan McAlpine is MSP for the South Scotland region.
On the remaining barriers women face, Joan said: “Some women got the vote in 1918, but it took much longer till most women felt their lives improve. The next big milestone was family allowance paid direct to the mother, which made a real material change to the lives of working class women. It has taken longer for women to gain parity in the workplace and the gender pay gap shows we are still not fully equal. Second wave feminism from the 1960s also transformed the lives of women by challenging the patriarchal system which limited women’s freedom in areas such as reproduction rights and domestic work. Those challenges remain with us and I believe the prevalence of pornography and the objectification of women thorough sexualised imagery is one of the biggest barriers to achieving real equality in the 21st century.”
Fiona McLeod is a long-standing SNP activist and former MSP, Minister and National Officer Bearer.
On the progress we have made for equality, Fiona said: “For me the only word I can use to describe how much we’ve progressed since 1918 is slowly. In my political life time I’ve seen equal pay acts and other legislation, but when we look at the facts and figures, equal pay is something we are still fighting for, we are still trying to smash the glass ceiling and striving for equality of opportunity. So yes, we are progressing, but not fast enough for me.”
Dr Philippa Whitford is MP for Central Ayrshire.
On her personal philosophy, Philippa said: “I was told at Medical School that, as a woman, I couldn’t be a surgeon, and that there were no women surgeons in Scotland. Once I realised they were serious, and not just pulling my leg, I decided I was still going to ‘GO FOR IT!’ This has remained my philosophy. I only stood to become an MP, after two months of people nagging me to stand for Westminster, when I woke up and thought – if not me, who? At this crucial period in Scotland’s history, many of us will be called to step outside our comfort zone – GO FOR IT!”
Gail Ross is MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross and is the Deputy Convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.
On the importance of getting more women involved in politics, Gail said: “Being a woman in politics is a challenge, but a good one. It’s essential women and girls get involved, whether at elected member level or using their vote.
We are doing many great things in the Scottish Parliament at the moment for gender equality. We recognise that women contribute at all levels of society and strive to support everyone, no matter what their circumstances, to make their voices heard. I got into politics to make a difference. I hope in some way I have, even if it’s just to show girls they can succeed in a typically male dominated profession.”
Sue Swain is a long-standing SNP activist and has held various organisational roles for the party.
Elaine Wylie is Convener of the Disciplinary Committee and an elected member of National Council.
On her time in the Party, Elaine said: “I have been an active member of the SNP for 25 years. In that time, I have seen the party develop from a protest movement to a party of government. As a female member, I believe that there has always been encouragement for me to get involved and thrive as an activist. I have had great support from my branch and CA for me to stand for and be re-elected to party committees over the past 15 years.”
Morgan Ritchie is an SNP activist and National Political Education Officer for YSI.
On raising her voice, Morgan said: “The SNP are a party that will never be discouraged from speaking up against those that try to crush their voice. As a Scottish person and more importantly, a Scottish woman I feel the desire and passion more than ever to do my part in raising my voice in support with the SNP against a UK government that not only ignore and seek to control Scotland but more importantly, repeatedly deliver policies that are cruel and callous particularly to women and children, such as the Rape Clause. I felt that I could no longer bite my tongue and wait for other inspiring women to crush these policies, the rampant sexism and systematic inequality within politics down. I had to make a stand beside them proudly and raise my own voice by becoming an active SNP member.”
Alison Thewliss is MP for Glasgow Central.
On the honouring the women who came before her, Alison said: “Gender equality and the rights of women have come a long way since enfranchisement for some women was secured through the Representation of the People Act in 1918. Many campaigners gave their lives for this cause, and it is incredibly important that we remember and honour the sacrifice that they made. I am delighted therefore that the Vote100 campaign has gone to such lengths to celebrate this key milestone.
I want women, regardless of their backgrounds to feel like they have a voice and that politics is a place for them. My advice is to always ask questions, and to ask for forgiveness rather than permission!”
Lee-Anne Menzies is an SNP activist who holds various local office bearer positions.
On her journey into politics, Lee-Ann said: “I joined the party in 2014 with no political background. I was a mum, wife and night shift worker in Waitrose. Ash Denham MSP offered me a job, despite me having no experience. Best move ever, I love being her Caseworker. I have stopped putting boundaries on my worth and look to help other women do similar.
I have been inspired by the women who have gone before us in the party and would hope to inspire other women to get involved, be active and make a difference to others and their own lives. This is what empowering women looks like!”
Councillor Joy Brahim represents Dalry and West Kilbride on North Ayrshire Council.
On progress made, Joy said: “In my view, women and men are neither superior nor inferior to each other – but we are different. While the male perspective used to be the default position, it’s great to see how the female point of view in politics has gone from being absent, to an alternative, to being on an equal footing. Sadly, some of us are still denied the right to vote by Westminster based on other characteristics – for instance I can’t vote in the Westminster elections because I am Dutch – so we are not quite as inclusive as we should be just yet.”
Maureen Watt is the MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine
On changing attitudes, Maureen said: “Since the passing of the Representation of the People Act 100 years ago, society has continued to challenge various forms of discrimination and stigma. This has included challenging attitudes towards women’s’ role in society. I am delighted that young women are being encouraged to consider careers in STEM fields, and that more women are being elected to Parliament and appointed to public boards.
Vote 100 is an excellent opportunity to commemorate the invaluable role of women past and present, and I have no doubt that women of the future can also make a difference to our society.”
Jenny Gilruth is MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes.
On the need for political parties to take action, Jenny said: “East Fife, today, North East Fife, is the seat in which I grew up in and has only ever been represented by men – both in Holyrood and Westminster. Scotland’s women need every political party to take action to ensure that we get more women into politics. We can pass all the progressive legislation that we want to in parliament, but it matters not one bit if we do not live by the standards that we set others.”
Joanna Cherry QC is MP for for Edinburgh South West.
On the progress we’ve made, Joanna said: “Things have changed for the better in politics over the last century. There was a time when even exceptional women struggled to get a foot in the door – yet now the number of talented, clever, passionate women from all parts of the UK taking their seats in the House of Commons increases at every election. I am incredibly proud to be one of a diverse group of SNP women at Westminster, and of the progress we have made so far towards equal representation and women’s political empowerment in Scotland.”
Grace McLean is an SNP activist and former councillor in North Ayrshire.
On her advice to women, Grace said: “I was very proud to be a local Councillor, I encourage all women to use their vote and ensure your future is taken seriously by the SNP. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose.”
Pauline Clark represents Fauldhouse and the Breich Valley on West Lothian Council.
On her journey into politics, Pauline said: “Looking back, I honestly believe my interest in politics was kindled while following quite avidly the 1982 TV Mini Series about the life of Nancy Astor, the first female MP to take her seat in Parliament. She was a controversial figure but I loved her passion and her determination. Perhaps, when in 1983, I stood as the 14 year old SNP candidate in my school mock election, I saw myself as a Glaswegian Lady Astor! I like to think I walked through the door she left open more than once.”
Julie McKenzie represents Oban North and Lorn on Argyll and Bute Council and is Equalities and Women’s Officer for her local branch.
On the progress we’ve made, Julie said: “Today it’s our privilege to stand on the shoulders of the women of suffrage. Society has come a long way since they won us our right to vote. However if my experience in politics has taught me anything, it’s that, as long as misogyny, inequality and sexism are still features of everyday life, we still have much work to do.
Massive barriers exist for many women who wish to enter public life. Those of us already politically active have a duty to encourage, inform and support our sisters to ensure that equal representation becomes a reality in our council chambers & parliaments. We also must work together to smash the barriers and change our patriarchal political systems. Ordinary women like you and I can make a real difference.”