International Women's Day 2021

The United Nations theme for International Women’s day 2021 is ‘Women in Leadership- Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world.’ World wide there are only 22 women leaders of nations, Nicola Sturgeon being one of them. In parliamentary democracies internationally, only 24.9% of parliamentarians are women. This is in the 21st century.

All over the world we see women in the forefront of campaigns for democracy, equal pay, reproductive rights and for an end to male violence. Only recently, demonstrations in Hong Kong, Myanmar, India, Brazil, Belarus and Poland have been led by women.

The pandemic has also led to an increase in domestic violence world wide. It is sad to reflect that Scotland is not immune from this trend. In the year 2019-20, there were 30,718 charges relating to domestic abuse in Scotland, 5.7% up on the previous year.

That is an average of 84 incidents a day. This does not include incidents recorded that did not lead to charges, nor cases not reported.

The Scottish charity Zero Tolerance reports a number of sobering statistics from 2017;

51% of the population of Scotland are women.

Yet women make up only:

  • 35% of MSPs, 25% of local councillors, 16% of council leaders.
  • 28% of public body chief executives, 26% of university principals, 23% of sheriffs, 7% of senior police officers.
  • 0% of major newspaper editors, 19% of major museums and art galleries directors, 14% of national sports bodies chief executives, 0% of CEOs of ‘top’ businesses. (Source) On average women in Scotland earn £182.90 per week less than men.
  • Women are four times more likely than men to give up paid work to do unpaid care work.

The campaign for independence in Scotland motivated many women to take an active part in politics for the first time. It is possible that there will be greater representation of women

in the Scottish parliament after the May elections. If we want to aim for a truly representative democracy in Scotland, we will not be able to do so under Tory rule. We need to take control of our own government and enable policies that will end discrimination and develop the potential of women.

The Scottish government was the first national government in the world to end period poverty with the passing of Monica Lennon’s Period Products bill in November 2020. A small example of what we can do.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: "We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations.’

Yes to that.