In advance of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2017, the theme of which was ‘Be Bold for Change’, Holyrood’s MSPs debated a Scottish Government motion reaffirming the commitment of the Scottish Parliament to upholding and protecting the rights of women – as fundamental human rights.
SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, used her speech to underline that though there may be legislation in place to protect women from discrimination, the reality for women in their day to day lives does not always accord with it.
Speaking, Ruth said:
‘ Although women’s right to participate is no longer questioned, there is no doubt that women in the political workplace have distinct and serious issues to contend with, whether it is the media focusing more on their outfits than the content of their speeches or the more overt and demeaning sexism that is still far too common.
In the case of women’s right to vote, the reality matches the legislation, but when it comes to women’s rights to equal pay and freedom from discrimination, although the legislation is there, the reality for women in their day-to-day lives does not always accord with it.
For now, the legislation is more aspiration than reality. Legislation is one thing, but changing attitudes is quite another. Legislation can only ever be a step—albeit a very important step—on the road to fundamentally changing attitudes and culture.’
Ms Maguire also highlighted crucial areas in which there does yet exist legislation to underpin the cultural shift that we must ensure follows, referencing the fact that under the current law in Scotland, the buying and selling of sexual access to women’s bodies for profit remains legal.
Commenting on this, Ruth said:
‘I have to question what sort of message that sends today, as we all celebrate our campaign for gender equality. On this International Women’s Day, when we are being asked to “Be Bold for Change”, I say that, as long as women and girls can be bought and sold like objects, there can be no equality and no social justice.
Equality must be about all women, not just privileged and powerful ones. I look forward to working with colleagues across the chamber who are bold enough to make our shared aspiration of a fair and equal Scotland a reality.’