SSP women’s network is back on track

sandra and glasgow ssp in edinburgh for conf 2014

LEFT PLATFORM: some west coast delegates arrive for SSP conference

by Sandra Webster, SSP national co-spokesperson Our conference of a few weeks ago was an inspiration. Democracy is bursting out all over the SSP. There was great debate and a great mix of older and newer comrades all there to support each other. We had all come together to begin the fightback and stake our claim to share our vision of an independent socialist Scotland. Part of this was our unanimous decision to re-establish the women’s network—one of the groups I believe will help build the party, as well as being a safe place for women to become more confident and contribute in an environment that is appropriate to us.

It was ironic for example that a Central Glasgow motion was not moved by the woman who had written it because she was unable to attend. Like many of you, I understood the barriers we face to becoming more involved, from the practical to the political.

Women in the party have not been silent or taken a back seat in the last few years. Since I have become more politically active, there have been so many women who continue to support and encourage me with their achievements. There are so many women who have been active in their branches, in Women For Independence or as part of the Yes campaign.

For me personally, I have grown more in confidence in the past few years, and so have many of my sisters. Part of the joy of being national co-spokesperson of the SSP has been attending branches and meetings where I have seen a huge increase in women’s participation. There are still many barriers we face in regard to even being able to participate more fully but the re-establishment will enable us to do this.

Discussion about the re-establishment has not popped up from the ether. Over the past two years there have been numerous conversations with many women who can’t wait to help establish the network. The consensus was to wait until after the referendum. Now it is time to show our intent and ensure our voices are listened too. We are lucky in our party as we have many new members coming forward as well as others who are more experienced.

We all have something to offer. It will be up to us to define how the network will function but I hope it will be a place for working class women to come together and gain confidence. That may be the confidence to speak at conference, or to take on a role at a local branch member. We are women who don’t need a t-shirt to declare we are feminists and understand the politics of why such goods should not be produced in a sweatshop where other women are exploited.

There is often talk of the glass ceiling but we are aware that we should not will step up on other women to break through it. Our feminism is born from many different backgrounds and experiences but we will find common ground to work together on. To achieve this we need our own space and for men to understand why and support us. I believe the women’s network will strengthen the party and encourage us to become more diverse and participatory.

For these reasons I am excited for what lies ahead for women in the SSP and hope you feel able to come forward and be involved. It is also our role to listen to you because a women’s network belongs to all of us. A meeting will be arranged soon and we will ensure that all women in the party are contacted.

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