Month: May 2016

Meet The Women #2

Women 5050 is hosting blogs from women MSPs from across political parties who support fair representation.

This week, meet Ruth Maguire, SNP MSP for Cunninghame South.Ruth Swearing In

I’ve long supported the 50/50 campaign. To me the under-representation of women in public life is simply unacceptable and we have to address the structural reasons behind that with meaningful action that gets results.

Whilst I acknowledge we all still have a great distance to travel in terms of the ethnic diversity in the Scottish Parliament, it is evident that, where positive action has been taken by the main parties, the public get representatives who better reflect their community.  It’s also crystal clear which side of the chamber doesn’t see the problem!

With the argument won that action is needed, it’s crucial that we continue the momentum.  I am very pleased that SNP national council agreed mechanisms at the weekend which will see even more women SNP candidates for the council elections in 2017.

This week I set down my first parliamentary motion and was happy to receive cross party support and congratulations for Ayrshire College on their #ThisManCan campaign and event on the 26th.  That excellent campaign aims to encourage more men into careers in health and social care.  It’s not only women that are held back by inequality.  If we can stop limiting ourselves by notions of what men and women “do” then it’s better for society as a whole.

I look forward to continuing to work both in and outside the parliament on driving the 50/50 agenda forward.

Meet the Women #1

Women 5050 will be hosting guest posts from women MSPs from across parties who are supporters of fair representation. We will hopefully be posting these weekly (depending on how busy the MSPs are!). Here is our first edition:

Meet Gail Ross SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross:CqBArLkC

It’s a huge honour to be elected as an MSP and represent the area that I grew up in and love. It’s also great to be able to be a strong role model for young women who are trying to find their way in life and are unsure what path to take. Politics has traditionally been seen as a male dominated profession in the past, now I am glad to see that is changing.

I’ve come across a few instances of casual sexism in the past few years as a Councillor and recently as Civic Leader, from joking remarks about the ‘weaker’ sex to outright astonishment that I should hold such a post. The most memorable was a piece in our local newspaper by a columnist musing on who would hold positions in a new Caithness Council. I was to be promoted to ‘Meenister fur Weemin’ and my primary responsibilities were to be things like ‘advising women on skirt lengths, make up and nail polish, reminding men about their wives birthdays and making the tea’. Satirically written but underlining a more serious challenge that a lot of women face every day in the workplace. I must say I’ve had a lot of mileage out of it though, I used it as the basis for a speech to the SNP conference last October about gender balance and people are still talking about it!

As we move forward we have to encourage more women to get involved in politics. The SNP group now have 43% female representation, we have a gender balanced cabinet and we strive to make the Scottish Parliament more family friendly. This job comes with enormous responsibility and it’s not for everyone but at least we can show women that whether it’s politics or some other career or life goal, gender doesn’t have to be a barrier anymore.