Manifesto for Women’s Rights in Scotland to be launched

Women Speak Scotland is publishing a ‘Manifesto for Women’s Rights in Scotland’ on International Women’s Day (8 March) ahead of the Holyrood election on 6 May. The Manifesto demands the protection and implementation of women’s human and legal rights. WSS will invite all parliamentary candidates to support it.

The Manifesto affirms women’s sex-based human rights, which are enshrined in international treaties and national legislation. It includes rights related to:

  • Safety and Privacy
  • Health and Bodily Autonomy
  • Freedom of Speech and Association
  • Fairness in Sport
  • Accurate Data
  • Freedom from Male Violence and Exploitation
  • Young Women and Girls

WSS says the Scottish Government must make a commitment to uphold women’s rights, regardless of which party/parties form the next administration. WSS believes the Manifesto is necessary because recent years have seen the gradual erosion of women’s rights. A spokeswoman for the group said “Women have been fighting for our rights for over 100 years but now we are facing a serious backlash. We are seeing the advances we’ve made being watered down or removed one by one. Public bodies and organisations too often dismiss women’s concerns. Many organisations now routinely confuse ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ which has the effect of reducing or removing women’s rights.

“The Scottish Government appears to be mounting an attack on women’s rights. For example, it has recently redefined the term ‘women’ to include men in relation to the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act. The Act was intended to address the historical under-representation of women on these boards, but is seriously undermined by allowing males to take places designated for women.

“The Hate Crime Bill proposed by the Scottish Government is in its final stage and will be debated at Holyrood on Wednesday. WSS is very concerned that the Government is refusing to offer protection to female victims who are attacked because of their sex despite widespread support for this measure. As it stands, the Bill will criminalise women advocating for our sex-based rights, including the maintenance of existing legal rights. So the WSS Manifesto demand for the protection of the right to freedom of speech is essential.

“We seem to be on a slippery slope which risks making women invisible both to the law and in national statistics. For example, there is a suggestion that the next Census in Scotland will not record the population according to our sex, even though this is crucial for planning many services, or identifying inequalities such as the sex pay gap. WSS is determined to reverse this trend and make sure the voices of the majority of women in Scotland are heard.

“Scottish Parliamentary candidates should be aware that women’s votes count – we are nearly 52% of the electorate – and we intend to make sure that women’s rights and concerns are not ignored during this election, nor by the incoming government.

“We also hope the Manifesto will empower those women who aren’t yet confident being involved in politics or activism, to feel able to engage in conversation with candidates in their constituencies, by providing information about some of the most important issues facing us at present.”

Copies of the Manifesto can be downloaded from the WSS website from 8 March onwards.


In the Media

Women’s manifesto aims to put pressure on Scottish parties to ‘reaffirm sex-based rights’
Scotsman (Gina Davidson) – Sunday, 7 March 2021

Nicola Sturgeon says she was first told of allegations about Alex Salmond in 2017. I heard the rumours in 2010
Scotsman (Susan Dalgety) – Saturday, 6 March 2021

PRIVACY POLICY

There’s been an outbreak of slates…

Image of a large piece of rock and a grey slate placed on it with the dictionary definition of the word woman, that is, an adult human female.

Wonderful messages written on slates have been appearing all over Scotland, thanks to some adventurous women. Do you think you can spot some of the slates for yourselves? If you do, share your pictures on Twitter with the hashtag #WomenWontWheest.

The Edinburgh Reporter ran a brief article on the campaign – National campaign arrives in Edinburgh (22 November 2020)

You can view all the pictures on our Flickr photostream and we have also grouped many of them into albums by areas around Scotland. WSS takes no credit for the Slate Women campaign. We are simply collecting together images of the efforts of women taking action by themselves and with others.

Flickr Photostream

FLICKR ALBUMS (SLATES BY AREAS)

You can join the campaign too! Scotland is never short of slates. Find a few pieces, give them a good clean and then write messages on them using paint. It can be about women’s rights, freedom of speech, quotes from books, or your thoughts and concerns in your own words. Place the slates in locations where you think other people might come across them. If you are able to, you can drill some holes around the edges of the slates so they can be secured with plastic ties to help them stay in place.

Take pictures of your artistic accomplishment (make sure you zoom in so the written message is easy to read) and send them to us at info@womenspeakscotland.com with a rough idea of the location. We will add it to the rest of the online collection.

Privacy Policy

Email John Swinney about content of RSHP material

There is a template available at the For Women Scotland website to help parents write their own emails to John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education, about several concerning aspects of the Relationship, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) material.

It would be great if as many parents as possible were to do this. The example letter does a great job of outlining the main issues – and they are pretty worrying.


Privacy Policy

Make the Census make sense

To those in Scotland – please email your MSPs as a matter of urgency.

MurrayBlackburnMackenzie have summarised the current state of issues around the upcoming census in March 2021 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and March 2022 for Scotland.

To quote from their blog post:

All three census authorities have committed to the longstanding, compulsory sex question, which will continue to enable respondents to answer either ‘female’ or ‘male’. In addition, the census in England, Wales and Scotland will carry a new, voluntary question on gender identity.

The three census authorities also intend to include accompanying guidance which advises respondents to answer the sex question based on their self-declared gender identity, not their sex.

The sex question guidance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has not yet been finalised, and is currently subject to further testing by ONS. But, whilst the census has been delayed in Scotland, the National Records of Scotland (NRS) appear to be treating the guidance as a done deal. Whether the recent assessment by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) will prompt NRS to reopen discussion on the guidance remains to be seen. There is still also the possibility of ONS either altering or dropping its guidance as a result of further testing, which NRS will need to factor into its decision-making.

WE NEED TO EMAIL OUR MSPS

Lisa Mackenzie (from MBM) emphasised we have a very tiny window available in Scotland as the guidance was meant to be completed by the “end of the summer”, but she hasn’t seen anything yet. So, it is worth us emailing our MSPs now as a highest priority. It is possible we may just have weeks to comment on the guidance and get it changed (apparently it is not covered by legislation so should be “easier” to influence if our interpretation is correct).

Woman’s Place UK have a template to help guide people to write to their MPs, the ONS and the UK Minister for Women and Equalities about the proposed guidance to accompany the sex question in the census. You can use it as a starting point to email your MSPs.

Some further points that you could include and expand in your own words:

It is vital that all census data should be accurate and consistent across the UK. We should know that sex in England and Wales and Northern Ireland means the same thing in Scotland, otherwise provision of services, funding, health initiatives, etc in one nation cannot be compared to the others in the union. The data gathered will be meaningless if we all mean different things, and trying to combine data from all nations into UK wide statistics will be a pointless exercise.

A census is an exercise in accurate data collections and knowing what you are measuring is vital. Any confusion or ambiguity helps no-one – robust data will help trans people too as it will give policy makers and researchers a better understanding of the demographics involved and where there might be gaps in the provision of services.

It is said that some trans people, or at least those that claim to be speaking for them, do not want to admit they are trans, so filling in their sex accurately is associated with the unpleasant emotions it provokes. The ONS and NRS have responded by changing the guidance so you can basically declare whatever sex you want.
However, if a census is a data collection exercise and a group of people don’t want to be measured then we shouldn’t be measuring them if the consequence is ruining the accuracy of the data.

The state should not be actively guiding people to answer sex as gender identity – we need robust, high quality data for men and women to address any discrimination and disadvantage experienced on the basis of sex. As seen with COVID-19, men may be dying at higher rates as a result of the virus, while women may suffer as result of policy consequences due to the pandemic. Sex is a significant measurement of disadvantages and discrimination. It is unethical to collect inaccurate data – we need to be able to understand differences of outcomes in people’s lives, we need to be able to monitor trends between sexes, to design evidence-based policies and determine if such implemented polices are successful.

You can use the WriteToThem website to email your MSPs.


Privacy Policy