By Lucy Ashton
“There is no doubt that women in society, including those in public life, continue to face unacceptable levels of sexist and misogynistic behaviour.
“That can—and does, I believe—put many women off standing for elected office. It harms democracy; it harms all of us; and it is completely unacceptable.
“Those things need to change. To change them, we need men to end their sexist and misogynistic behaviour and to be much more aware of their actions and words and of the impact of them.
“The Scottish Government funds projects to support and equip women to stand for elected office. That includes Engender’s equal representation project to help political parties to increase their diversity, and the young women lead programme and Elect Her, which empower women to stand for elected office.”
“Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with—in my case—the Daily Mail’s tactics of attempting to reduce women politicians to their legs. To the best of my knowledge, such tactics are never used to dismiss and degrade male politicians in the way that that happens to female politicians.
“Sadly and depressingly, the story highlighted what women already know and what many women already experience daily, which is deep-seated sexism and misogyny in society. That needs to be addressed.
“We will continue to take the actions that I set out in my earlier answer, but I am also pleased that in our response to the work of the Baroness Kennedy, pictured left, misogyny and criminal justice in Scotland working group, we committed to consult on draft legislation in advance of introducing a bill to specifically tackle misogyny.
“This is something for all of us—but for men, in particular—to reflect on. We will rue the day that we make it more difficult and less attractive for women to come forward for election to public office. It is time to draw a line in the sand, and it is time for men—not all men are misogynists, but misogyny comes from men—to change.”