Gender Balance

Conference, one of the reasons I am a member of the SNP is because of our record on women. I am proud to be part of a party that values and fights for the rights of women, especially young women like myself.

I am proud that women’s employment is proportionally higher in Scotland than it is on the south of the border. I am proud that the women in work experience a lower gender pay gap than in the rest of the UK.

I am proud that we have a cabinet that has 50 / 50 gender balance and I am proud that we have a female first minister, we have Nicola Sturgeon who is consistently challenging the status quo and championing women everywhere.

A First Minister that has promised that if re-elected will bring forward legislation ensuring gender balancae on all public sector boards.

We must celebrate our achievements, especially in the face of the current opposition, we must shout about our incredible record in government at every chance we get but we must also constantly be asking ourselves what more can we do?

We must challenge ourselves to think about politics differently. Women still face barriers and discrimination, I know all too well, it is our job to break down those barriers. To raze them to the ground at every chance we get and that is exactly what this resolution does today. Our job is not done, there is still such a long way to go before we can say that we are truly equal.

I was listening to the First Minister’s video that went out as part of International Women’s Day and she made the point that if we continue with the current rate of change we will not achieve gender parity for another one hundred and seventeen years. One hundred and seventeen years! I know our NHS is good but I won’t be around to see that. Conference, I want it now. I want full gender parity in every aspect of our society now, and we must do everything we can until we get it.

That is why this resolution is so important. This resolution will play its part in breaking down those barriers, making politics more accessible for the highly talented and skilled women that already exist within our party. This isn’t about making women stronger, we already have strong women ready to fill these roles. It is about changing the way we perceive that strength.

Passing this resolution today that has been brought forward by our own NEC sets the tone for the upcoming council selection process, it lets women know that we are a party that values them and wants them in our local authorities. That we are a party that wants equality and we want it urgently.

I am a firm believer in the theory that you have to see it to be it. I love that there are young girls growing up right now having never seen a male leader of the three main political parties because for too long these stages have been dominated by men. This resolution is not just to make access to politics easier for women but to pave the way for the next generation of young women seeing more women in their local authorities. For the next generation seeing it and then doing it for themselves.

Seconding Motion for Gender Balance Mechanisms, SNP Conference, March 2016

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