As someone who grew up in an SNP family – when this was an unfashionable thing to be – and who was both natured and nurtured to believe in Scottish independence, it’s often hard to articulate to others why they could and should vote yes this September. Especially women.
I understand the trepidation, the caution and even the doubts and the fears. Change is scary. Being bold enough to break through the mould so carefully fashioned to keep us in our place is tough, especially when, in the current climate, it’s enough to get on and make do. There’s little time or energy amongst the minutiae of actions required to get through the day and the week for big thoughts on how to make things better or even, just different.
But International Women’s Day offers a rare moment upon which to dwell on past, present and future. And I urge Scottish women to seize it.
Reflect on the struggles of previous generations to make the case for equality and lament the achingly slow progress. We have had the vote for less than 100 years, the right to be paid the same as men for less than 50 and the right not to be discriminated against in all spheres of life because we are women for just over 10. These rights were hard fought and hard won. And now they are being swept away.
Read today’s Independent and weep. It’s not just poor women this Tory government is hurting – they’re almost too easy a target – but affluent ones. All women in Scotland are paying more than their fair share of the austerity burden through pay freezes, tax credit cuts, tax and benefit changes and child care cost hikes. Even when pension status was equalised, both Labour and Tory governments opted to do it by raising the age for women. Thanks to successive UK government policies, women in Scotland are now worse off. That’s likely to continue for decades to come.
Vote no and this is what we can look forward to: Increasingly second class citizenship and an assumption that we will bear economic and social pain without a whimper.
But we can choose the possibility of a different future in September. There are no guarantees with independence, but voting yes gives us the chance to shape our destiny, for it to be a brighter, better one, with our rights to be treated fairly and equally, for our worth and value to society, our families and communities built into the constitutional foundations of our state. As 52% of a small population, we get more than a say, we get clout. We get to set a course fair for our future and that of generations of women to come.
Vote no and nothing will change for you, your daughters, grand-daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts, mothers and grandmothers. Vote yes and potentially, everything will.
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