Women for independence: independence for women

Today – though I say so myself – marks a watershed in the constitutional debate and in the campaign for a Yes vote in the independence referendum.

Women for independence, an autonomous, all party, nay party group of women, by women and for women, goes live.  And I am proud to have played my role, alongside a fairly large band of hardy and hard-working women, in getting us here.

As is our way, there have been big chats going on for a while.  Working out whether, why, what, who and how.  In establishing that yes, a women for independence group which sits outside the mainstream but will rub along with it quite nicely, was needed, we came to the conclusion that being women for independence wasn’t enough.  We also need to establish that independence is for women and how exciting it could be if independence for Scotland also helped deliver true, real independence for women.  Sisters, to coin the song title, doing it for themselves.

So, this movement is not just here for the referendum – I hope – but for the afterwards too.  We intend to play a role in developing a new politics, one in which the needs and interests of women are better represented and considered.  The more we blethered and cogitated, the more we realised that if we can deliver, our efforts could result in a very different politics in independent Scotland.

And this long-term goal is just as important as the short-term one.

For fairly obvious reasons, our immediate focus is on encouraging more women to vote Yes in 2014.  We are well aware that the polls show a marked reluctance by women in Scotland to opt for change.  For those of us who already believe in independence and whose votes are in the bag, we struggle to understand why.  But we also realise that we really need to understand why, or else how might we ever change all those made-up and undecided minds?

We wondered if there had been research conducted with women that showed some clues.  We couldn’t find any (though I concede we might just not have access to it and maybe Gender Politics in Edinburgh could help us out here? in a non-partisan way of course).  And we realised that if we could unlock this conundrum, we might well hold the key to a successful yes vote.

Because women are rarely listened to for their political opinions in this country.  Few of the parties outside of the electoral cycle actually take time to engage with groups of women voters and give them space to talk about their hopes, fears, concerns and aspirations.   Occasionally, they might grumble, but they’re not heard.

Until now, the independence referendum campaign has involved a shouting match.  Two polarised camps delivering a barrage of claim, counterclaim and occasionally, insult.  If it’s turning me off, then it’s bound to have taken its toll on women voters who are largely disinterested in the day-to-day of political warfare.  The parlour game being played over key parts of the process?  Necessary but tedious.

And even when the protagonists deign to invite women on to their platforms, it is often – with absolutely no disrespect intended – only the chattering classes who are included.  Women who are highly educated, very articulate and more than happy to try to hold their own in a predominantly male mix.  I can say this, because I am one of them.

What do ordinary women think?  Ordinary not in the sense that they are, of course, but because they get on with the mundane.  The going to work, the keeping of houses, the raising of weans, the paying of bills, the reading of celebrity magazines, the lying awake worrying about the finances, the washing of clothes, the tidying of toys, the caring of parents, the treading of gym mills,  the watching of Saturday night telly.  The everyday stuff which keeps our worlds ticking over and which leaves precious little energy or time or inclination to ponder the pros and cons of a one or two question referendum.

Are they as exercised by membership of NATO as the SNP seems to be?  Do they care if the Queen is head of an independent state or not?  Or are their questions about independence to do with totally different things?  Questions which no one has raised, never mind provided answers for.

This is what Women for Independence is going to be about.  Listening to women, proper listening.  Giving them space and time to have their say, elucidate their doubts, share their views, articulate their aspirations.  In a safe space.  In a way which no political party has engaged with them – en masse – before.

Women for Independence goes live today.  We already have way more than the 214 women supporters that we set ourselves at this stage.  And we are going to spend the next few months listening to other women, allowing them their say in this most important debate in Scotland’s modern political history.

In doing so, we hope we are sending all the parties and both sides in this debate a clear message.

Women’s views matter.  Women’s voices should be heard.   Women’s votes will count.

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About burdzeyeview

A Scottish burd casting a beady eye over political, topical, economic and social issues that ruffle my feathers.

Posted on August 13, 2012, in Political witterings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. can I just ask is women for Scottish Independence the same facebook page as women for Independence?

    • No, separate groups. I’m a member of both. But Women for Scottish independence, I think, is more focused on providing a space for women who currently believe in independence – the Women for Independence movement has a primary aim in reaching out to other women.

  2. . I’ve always wondered why less women support independence.

    Lack of interest by the independence campaign in issues of importance to women. (The Scottish Women’s Convention crowdsourced a manifesto for women before the local government elections this year, so it’s not that the information isn’t available to “Yes Scotland”, it’s just that it’s not something they’re interested in.

    It’s nice that women for independence have their own support group now, though.

    • The reason our name is double-barrelled – Women for Independence, Independence for Women – is precisely because it is not just a vehicle for votes. We are all genuinely committed to trying to engage women, to encourage them to be more politicised and involved actively in politics, to create a Scotland that is truly independent for women, that fosters and enables women to be independent, and to change the political landscape in Scotland forever. High ideals I know, but this is what we believe.

  3. “For fairly obvious reasons, our immediate focus is on encouraging more women to vote Yes in 2014. We are well aware that the polls show a marked reluctance by women in Scotland to opt for change. For those of us who already believe in independence and whose votes are in the bag, we struggle to understand why. But we also realise that we really need to understand why, or else how might we ever change all those made-up and undecided minds?”

    You aren’t concerned that when you find out why so many women don’t want independence, it might be your mind that changes?

  4. I had a rather animated discussion with my mother over the weekend regarding Scottish Independence. She’s a long time SNP voter constantly challenging me to convince her to vote Yes. All I hear from her is “Yes I heard you, I understand you, I get it, I’m not stupid, but you have yet to convince me”. I’m baffled. I think she wants Alex Salmond to personally visit her and explain in every minute detail EXACTLY what Scotland will be like after voting Yes. She wants the impossible. As far as she’s concerned nobody from the SNP or any other pro-indy group has told her anything. When I ask her what she wants to know, she doesn’t know. All she can say with any conviction is that she doesn’t want to have to go looking for information, she doesn’t want to read blogs or join online forums or engage over Twitter. At most she might click on a link I post on my personal Facebook. She won’t give time to phone canvassers or people on her doorstep and will walk past street stalls and leafleters, yet she maintains her stance that nobody is wiling to tell her anything. I think, sadly, she is representative of a swathe of Scottish women who are not just disengaged from politics they are actively dismissive of it. They don’t care either way so will vote No for the status quo. OTOH I have been invited to a social gathering of women where I was politely warned not to bring “it” up as one of the other ladies attending was very pro-union and our host didn’t want “that sort of thing” discussed. Ye cannae win!

    • I think, sadly, she is representative of a swathe of Scottish women who are not just disengaged from politics they are actively dismissive of it.

      I think that’s rather indicative of how Scottish party/council politics has become not just disengaged from what ordinary people actually need, they’re actively dismissive of us.

      When even Kate refers to ordinary women as “them”….

  5. A great step. I’ve always wondered why less women support independence. It would be good to move the debate away from the ‘professional’ politicos because it’s not just women who are sick of the mud slinging, half truths and lies. It seems me and my pals that we can have a reasoned debate on independence in the pub that is more mature, respectful and intelligent than the debate in the MSM, blogosphere and parliament (and with better jokes!). I never felt before such a huge gap or disconnect between what the politicos and journalists rabbit on about and what concerns the ‘normal’ person.
    Roll on 2014.

  1. Pingback: Women for Independence, Independence for Women | Edinburgh Eye

  2. Pingback: Women for independence: independence for women | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

  3. Pingback: Kate Higgins | Women for independence: independence for women - Sisters doing it for themselves. | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it

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