Girlguiding Scotland steers girls towards politics
Girlguiding Scotland and Women 50:50 have joined forces to empower a new generation of girls, with their joint Citizen Girl project. Here, we find out more about it...
Nicola Sturgeon, Kezia Dugdale, Ruth Davidson, Fiona Hyslop, Roseanna Cunningham, Annabelle Ewing, Aileen Campbell and Shona Robison.
These are just a few of the strong, Scottish women who have made a name for themselves in politics.
However, when it comes to decision-making, men still hold the balance of power in Parliament and in our local authorities.
Only 35 per cent of serving MSPs and 29 per cent of our councillors are women.
After the Scottish Independence referendum in 2014, a group of women who had been campaigning in both Yes and No camps decided to form Women 50:50.
The aim was to campaign for legislation that would see all parties put forward at least 50 per cent of female candidates for election in both Scottish Parliament and council elections.
This year, Women 50:50, which was co-founded by Kezia Dugdale and Talat Yaqoob, is taking on new recruits – some 50,000 Girlguiding Scotland members.
For they have launched a joint initiative with Girlguiding which will give young girls and women the chance to learn about equality and how they can make their voices heard.
Talat explained: “One hundred years ago, the first women gained the right to vote after a hard-fought campaign. However, it would take another decade before all women gained the same voting rights as men.
“Since then women have made incredible strides as we push for equal representation.
“Yet women continue to make up only around a third of the Scottish and UK Parliament.
“At its current rate it will take another 50 years before we achieve equal representation.
“Citizen Girl is about celebrating how far we’ve come while empowering the next generation to take the lead.
“By showing girls, early on, just how powerful their voices are, we can help create a more equal future for girls and young women in Scotland.
“Women 50:50 is delighted to be a part of Citizen Girl and we can’t wait to see what these inspiring young women achieve when they make their voices heard.”
As part of celebrations to mark Scotland’s Year of Young People and the 100th anniversary since women over the age of 30 in the UK gained the right to vote, Girlguiding Scotland is calling for meaningful change to help create a more equal future for girls and young women.
Citizen Girl’s aims are three fold.
Firstly, it calls for political parties to commit to gender equality by putting forward 50 per cent of female candidates in local, Scottish and UK elections.
Secondly, politicians at all levels are being asked to consult with young people on all decisions that impact their lives.
And, lastly, businesses, public bodies and voluntary organisations in Scotland are being asked to commit to increasing female representation in management and creating opportunities for the next generation of girls.
Rebecca MacLennan, a guide leader with the 7th Bishopbriggs, is keen for her young charges to get involved.
The 26-year-old, who has been with the organisation since the age of five and a leader for the last three years, explained why.
She said: “We need to ensure girls understand the importance of using their voices, whether that be in local politics or on local community action projects.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for the girls to learn more about politics, both locally and nationally, and the importance of them becoming involved.
“A lot of them may think politics is not really for them but getting them involved in local issues and taking part in the world of politics will hopefully enable them to see it as a career opportunity.
“We’ve still yet to decide which issues we will be tackling locally but all of the girls at Girlguiding Scotland are really excited about being a part of Citizen Girl.”
Rebecca, who is director of Young Engineers Scotland which is part of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, believes joining the Rainbows at the age of five helped her career.
She added: “My day job is working with our science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) team across primary and secondary schools to inspire both girls and boys to pursue those subjects.
“I wouldn’t be in the role I am now had it not been for the leadership skills I’ve learned being a part of Girguiding Scotland for almost 20 years now.
“I truly hope Citizen Girl will inspire our girls to aim as high as the leading women in politics who are now supporting us.
“It’s a great campaign and we’re hoping for fantastic results, both locally and nationally, as it plays out in the next few months.”
Find out how you can get involved at www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk/get-involved.
Political support for Citizen Girl from today’s leading ladies
Citizen Girl has been endorsed by female leaders from across the political spectrum.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Organisations such as Girlguiding Scotland play a vital role in ensuring that the voices of young women and girls are heard and acted on.
“Citizen Girl is an initiative that I warmly welcome. It will create new opportunities for girls and young women to shine locally and nationally.
“The Scottish Government is committed to tackling gender inequality and celebrating the many and valued contributions of young women and girls.”
Labour MSP and Women 50:50 co-founder Kezia Dugdale said: “Women remain under-represented in positions of influence in Scotland. That simply has to change.
“I’m delighted to back the Citizen Girl initiative and I look forward to engaging with the next generation of female leaders.
“We can’t wait another one hundred years for gender equality – we need it now.”
Ruth Davidson, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “The first women to win the vote did so 100 years ago. This anniversary allows us to see how far we’ve come – and how far we’ve still got to go.
“I congratulate Girlguiding Scotland on the launch of Citizen Girl – every young woman should feel empowered to find her own voice.”