Yesterday, Women for Independence launched a campaign to root out sexism and send it off in the General Election campaign. The movement – of which I am a part but not the only woman involved nor a leader nor a spokesperson – believes that everyone should welcome and foster the increased participation of women in democratic life, whether they campaigned for a Yes or a No vote in the referendum.
“Women should be able to raise their heads above the parapet without being a target for sexism or personal abuse.” you’d think that might be a given in 21st Century Scotland but apparently not. Already women have been targeted; some have been subjected to online abuse like this: “She’s what you might call a political prostitute whoring herself to whoever will have her.” (about a female SNP candidate). There’s also a hideous cartoon doing the rounds grotesquely caricaturing a prominent Labour MP in the same vein.
Apparently, some women are carpet bagging and careerist now some activists have decided to do what men in their parties have been doing for generations – seeking to become candidates and MPs.
Frankly it’s unacceptable and it’s why Women for Independence is calling on all parties, all party leaders, candidates, activists and party staff to sign up to its campaign and code of conduct. Already, the campaign is delighted to have secured the backing of the SNP and the Scottish Greens – it is hoped that Scottish Labour, which is at the heart of a great cross party initiative in the Scottish Women 50 50 group, will follow suit. And of course, the Scottish Conservatives and Liberal Democrats too.
The campaign calls on everyone involved or going to be involved in the UK General Election campaign in Scotland to pledge that:
- they will conduct a democratic, respectful campaign that concentrates on political issues
- no personal abuse will be directed at rivals
- women will not be objectified or subjected to sexist language or behaviour
- where there are panel discussions, all parties will insist on gender balance
- where abusive or sexist behaviour occurs, parties will make clear that they do not tolerate it from their members, staff or representatives
The referendum saw women – of all ages, backgrounds and demographics – get involved in participative politics to an astonishing and probably unprecedented degree in Scotland. It is in the interests of all who believe in democracy to ensure that this Westminster election campaign leads to even greater women’s participation and that women do not get put off ever getting involved again.
You can support the campaign by tweeting and sharing the pledge on your social media and if you’re a candidate sign up and say you’ve done so publicly.