23 April 2012
Despite experts citing the Scottish Greens as leading the way on the issue of gender balance in politics, recent headlines have overlooked this, instead describing Scotland’s councils as “male, pale and stale.” Alison has a few thoughts…
“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.”
I bet those words from novelist Margaret Atwood will give rise to a wry smile. But of course the way society is reflected in Scotland’s corridors of power is incredibly important and it’s about time we grasped this particular thistle.
The Herald had it spot-on yesterday with its comment that a healthy democracy should mirror the communities it serves.
There is a growing consensus that allowing parties to simply encourage women to put their names forward isn’t working. At the moment only a fifth of councillors in Scotland are women and only one third of MSPs are.
Scottish Greens would like to see an equality audit for every party standing candidates. We like the idea of an obligation on parties to put forward a minimum of 40 per cent of candidates from either sex.
In our party 40 per cent of candidates must be women – 50 per cent in target seats – and we have mechanisms in place to ensure this.
It is obviously healthy for politics. If we offer more female candidates, they are more likely to be elected which in turn will show that it is possible to be one of those powerful women Atwood referred to.
If we had more women councillors would we see some of our best nurseries closed when savings are demanded? Would we see issues such as domestic violence and childcare getting further up the agenda? I’m not saying we could always expect different decisions but at least we could be assured that a more democratic range of views was aired.
Why are there no women in the “quad” running the UK Government? (I know: Calm down, dear.) And at a local level how many leaflets for the council elections have you received featuring female candidates? One party in my home city is only fielding two in the seventeen wards it’s contesting.
Scotland is a diverse country and this must be reflected in those with whom the buck stops.