Independent women

women-independenceby Sandra Webster, SSP national co-spokesperson One of the greatest strengths of the Yes campaign was a positive vision of a different kind of politics. One where more voices could be encouraged to speak and most importantly be listened too. Now on the other side where the losers have become the winners, we need not to put this aside but continue to ensure that we listen to those who ask for our support.

Last week, Women for Independence drew up a five point plan of behaviour they asked us to support in the General Election and some women from the party drew up a response. This response did not belong to any individual but to the women who participated and indeed to all the women in the wider party.

It will be a challenge but it is our responsibility as individuals and as a party to ensure women feel they can be heard and most importantly listened to.

Many women in our party are members or supporters of Women for Independence as well as being active in their own branches. This has brought depth and a new perspective to our branch discussions. We are a bottom-up party so this new energy should be seen at Executive Committee level.

We have a 50/50 EC membership which is much more encouraging than the two women who were members last year. We live in a patriarchal society though and there are many barriers which impact on women’s participation at all levels in the party.

Caring responsibilities for example may mean women are unable to attend weekend and evening meetings. We as a party should be more flexible and create times and spaces that are easier for women to access.

Language is important too. Both in the virtual and real world and that we address each other appropriately and with respect. It is too easy to have a culture develop that we are not aware impacts on others. Gender balance on platforms is crucial too. The only way women will become more confident in speaking in public is by practice and support from male comrades.

This is perhaps the greatest support we can have support from comrades and a place we can meet which is where the women’s network will come into its own.

One of the particular issues that the women who co-authored our statement wanted to emphasise is our mission to reach out especially to working class women. Women and those they care for are disproportionally affected by austerity.

As an anti austerity party any action we have such as the implementation of school meals, free prescriptions will benefit men and women too. We have to continue to speak up against austerity to make a difference to all our lives.

Women For Indy were involved in a campaign which caused the Scottish Government to think again about building a new women’s “super prison” at Greenock. Imagine if they could campaign for carers rights.

Could they help prevent the day centre closures in Glasgow? Women’s issues are not only ours, they affect us all. We have so many new women in our party who are hungry for change. I applaud them and also all the women who have been in the party in difficult times. You have made a difference with all your efforts and hard work. Your voices must still continue to be at the heart of our politics.

Women are the heartbeat of our party. Tackling inequality will create a kinder fairer society for us all. We in the SSP do not want the battle to stop after independence that is only the beginning. We can start with supporting more women to become active in the party.

Below is our response to Women for Independence, our code of practice for the forthcoming General Elections. We may only have one women out of the few candidates we are fielding but at the last EC it was recognised women should be at the centre of the campaigning. I know you will recognise your role in this.


Further representation needed

SSP response to Women for Independence’s five point pledge

We welcome the petition of Women for Independence on how the election campaign should be conducted. We will only be fielding a small number of candidates where local branches have made the decision to stand. As a party we are proud that for the first time in a few years we have a 50/50 EC and a male and female co-spokesperson and co-chair. We recognise this is only the beginning though. Many women in the party were very active inside the Women for Indy campaign and found their voices. Some of us are also in the newly formed Women for Independence local group. We also have a large number of women activists who have been inspirational in their values and their feminist ideals and most of all their energy to make a difference in local communities. We acknowledge that at the General Election women should receive further representation. At our last Executive Council it was recognised that although we only have one female candidate, (myself Sandra Webster), women should be central and at the front of all our campaigning. This will mean we will strive to ensure women are represented on every election platform. Electioneering can resort into name-calling especially with the enhanced role of social media and we will ensure our social media team when using our twitter, Facebook and other apps will ensure that no-one feels threatened or uses discriminatory language. If so it will be managed so it will not occur again. If we make mistakes we promise we will learn from them. In all our campaigns we will strive to support women on the many issues that affect them. Especially working class women as we live in these communities and understand the real impact of austerity and how it is especially impacting on the lives of women. We acknowledge we are not perfect, we will make mistakes especially as we have so many new members. We thank Women for Independence for drawing up this statement which highlights the barriers women experience in society. We look forward to being members of, and working alongside you as we strive for more equality. We are especially committed to campaigning for the issues that especially impact on working class women. We recognise that class leads to an unequal society and we will always continue to reach out to women where they are in their local communities. Tackling austerity will change all our lives. Women and those they care for are first in the firing line of the cuts, tackling inequality means recognising this and bringing about real change in women’s life. Thanks for challenging us. This statement was agreed by a number of us all of whom are active in the party and some of whom have been involved in Women for Indy. The statement is only the beginning of a process that can transform politics.

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