Not just a question of leaders

Hugh MacDonald: Our leaders may be female but we still need more women in politics

 APRIL 30TH, 2016 - 12:01 AM  HUGH MACDONALD

"This almost primitive political power of women has been transformed in the century since suffrage and has reached a rarefied level in Scottish politics. The power of women in this country is now such that the three leading parties have women leaders in Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Kezia Dugdale (Labour) and Ruth Davidson (Conservative). This is not a blip or even a curiosity but part of a distinctive trend. The previous Conservative leader in Scotland was Annabel Goldie. The previous Labour leader was Johann Lamont. Sturgeon comes from an SNP tradition that has as its most famous standard bearers the groundbreaker Winnie Ewing and the late and inspirational Margo MacDonald.

So are there reasons why women play such a strong role in Scottish politics, certainly at the top? Is our nation at the forefront of a march towards a system that will reflect gender at least 50-50? And as we approach the Holyrood elections what is the outlook for women in the Scottish political system?

There is, apparently, something in the notion that culture plays a part. Dr Meryl Kenny, lecturer in gender and politics at the University of Edinburgh, points out: “You are seeing a lot of women making that transition from the ‘small p’ politics to become involved in family issues, local organisations and then to running for office. Women for Independence has facilitated that.”