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Gender equality still an unwon cause 100 years after female suffrage – Sturgeon

Holyrood’s political leaders paid tribute to the suffragettes and suffragists who secured the vote for some women a century ago.

A suffragette being arrested by police in 1914 (PA)
A suffragette being arrested by police in 1914 (PA)

Gender equality remains an unwon cause 100 years on from the first women securing the right to vote in the UK, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Scotland’s First Minister said it was the duty of the current generation to win the battle for equality as she paid tribute to the sacrifices of the suffragettes and suffragists who won the right for some women to vote a century ago.

In a debate at Holyrood marking the centenary, Ms Sturgeon said it was also a moment to look to the future.

She said: “Some women secured the parliamentary vote a century ago, women have had equal voting rights to men for 90 years, but the uncomfortable truth is that gender equality is still an unwon cause. An unwon cause that it is the duty of our generation to win.”

She praised recent achievements including the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill and legislation to secure 50% female representation on public boards.

However, the First Minister warned that gender capability still was not reflected in equal pay and status while sexual abuse and harassment are still too widespread and female representation at Holyrood has gone backwards, from 37% of MSPs in 1999 to just 35%.

“I hope that this parliament can play a vital role in consigning these issues to history,” she said.

“I want young people in the future to be able to see them in the same way that we see voting rights for women – as a cause that was argued for and won by earlier generations.”

Ms Sturgeon said the best way to honour the “perseverance, courage and self sacrifice” of the suffragists and suffragettes was by “renewing our own resolve to use the powers we have … to make the world a better place for the girls and young women who are growing up today”.

“It falls to us in our generation through deeds not words to complete the work that the suffrage work started.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the centenary was a “staging post to a better system”.

She said: “The idea of equal only exists if women are given the same opportunity to make progress, the same rewards for hard work and the same treatment in the job as the man standing next to her, and that’s the next fight.

“Closing the gender pay gap, gender blind recruitment and promotion, confronting sexual harassment and cracking down on real life and online misogynistic attacks are the next frontiers in a war which is not yet won.

“There is much more for all of us to do and anniversaries like today can help focus our attention on that work and prompt us into action.”

Labour’s Kezia Dugdale highlighted there are more statues of dogs in Edinburgh than of women.

She said: “The evidence that women are still unequal can be seen everywhere we turn so we must redouble our efforts to deliver that gender equality. Commemorate yes, celebrate no – I’m too angry and I’m still marching.”

Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “It’s 2018, women have the vote but we are far from equally represented. The job is not yet done.

“Let’s honour the memory and legacy of all of these remarkable campaigners and let us work to close the gap.”

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said his party would work to “remove the barrier to get good women elected” by initiatives such as all-women shortlists for the next Holyrood election.



From Belfast Telegraph