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A Gender Equal World is Possible: Even in Hard Times, We Can Rise to the Challenge

Pam

Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP

Scottish Labour’s Spokesperson on Social Justice and Social Security

Scottish Parliament Member, Pam Duncan-Glancy calls for us all to redouble our efforts, and work to eliminate gendered violence and inequality once and for all.

I got into politics because I want a better world. A world where no matter your race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, age or background, you can live up to your full potential.

That world is a gender-equal world. It is a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. It is a world that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

However, if the last few months have taught us anything, we’re not there yet. The fights we’ve won were hard fought, but their continued success is fragile.

Our country is divided and polarised. Misogyny is on the rise, violence against women and girls is a looming spectre for millions, and poverty is exacerbating and entrenching inequality. We have a job to do to fight for the world we need.

Enough is enough

Most women have experienced, or know someone who has experienced, misogyny, assault or violence at the hands of men. In Scotland, one in five women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and an average of six rapes are reported a day – it’s particularly prevalent among minority groups. Disabled women in the UK are twice as likely to experience gendered violence, 83% of trans women have experienced a hate crime, and BME and migrant women face higher levels of domestic homicide and abuse-driven suicide.

Maybe the hardest bit of all to swallow is that women are regularly subjected to gendered violence from an early age. A report from the University of Glasgow, in the region I represent, revealed that sexual harassment is ‘common’ in Scotland’s secondary schools. If we don’t address it, we risk a generation growing up viewing gender-based violence as somehow normal or inevitable.

Violence against women is an epidemic – enough is enough. Enough is enough.

Every one of us, not just in Parliament but in every home, high street and boardroom across our country, has the responsibility to do everything we can to end it. Those of us in public office have a responsibility to lead that.

That means challenging misogyny when we see or hear it, rather than looking away. It means education and reflection on our practices and our own internalised views and perspectives. Crucially, it means that men have to do and be better. It is their behaviour and attitudes that must change to end the violence.

Lying at the heart of this epidemic of violence against women and girls is the unequal distribution of income, power and wealth. When people say this is not a party-political issue, I squirm. The desire to end it is not party political but the route to ending it absolutely is.

It is not enough for politicians and governments to claim they are appalled by violence against women – they must lead by taking action in the policies they make, the laws they create and the budgets they set. They must drive out the misogyny and discrimination that results in men holding power, having most of the wealth and earning the highest incomes.

I’m tired of budgets that don’t value women’s work – both paid and unpaid. And I’m tired of a state that cuts lifeline services – leaving women to care for their parents and children – and designs strategies to drive up growth in male-dominated sectors.

Gender equality campaigner, Scottish Labour's newly elected Pam Duncan-Glancy arrives for registration at the Scottish Parliament. (Image: Jane Barlow/PA Wire) A lifelong campaigner for a gender equal world
Scottish Labour’s newly elected Pam Duncan-Glancy arrives for registration at the Scottish Parliament. (Image: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

Taking action

But there is hope in every corner of our communities. Up and down the country, there are thousands of incredible organisations working tirelessly to end gendered violence and support the victims of it.

Organisations like Glasgow Women’s Aid, The Daisy Project, Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis, Wise Women and countless more are fighting to dismantle the patriarchy that drives violence against women.

As legislatures, we should be soaking up their skills and knowledge and funding them properly to keep them going.  

As well as leading, governments, and parliaments also have a responsibility to act through the creation of legislation to protect women and girls and enshrine their rights in law. I support the recommendations of Baroness Kennedy’s report and I welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to hold a public consultation prior to introducing a Bill to Parliament that would hopefully include a new statutory aggravation of misogyny.

Every one of us has a responsibility to do everything in our power to end violence against women and girls. Let us use this International Women’s Day to redouble our efforts, work to eliminate gendered violence and inequality once and for all, and create the better world we all need, want and can have.

I’m an optimist, even in the hardest of times, we can rise to the challenge. A gender-equal world – free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination – is possible. A diverse, equitable and inclusive world is possible. A world where difference is valued and celebrated is possible. If we focus on what unites us, if we lead, legislate and budget for equality, and, if we work together to tear down the barriers to women’s equal share of income, power and wealth, once and for all, we can and we will have it.

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