A welcome introduction to the #ScotWomenStand campaign, from Patrycja Kupiec - Director of YWCA Scotland - The Young Women’s Movement.
This campaign as most of the best things in life is a result of a chance meeting with a kindred spirit (Anne Shirley’s fan forever!), Katie from The Parliament Project, who introduced me to the Parliament Project’s CEO Lee (and her lovely dog Stella), and as soon as we met we started hatching plans together. Our organisations align so closely when it comes to taking action towards equal representation – us with our Young Women Lead programme, and the Parliament Project with their practical workshops and webinars. We knew we wanted to partner up to do something bit different and looking towards the future not just the past to celebrate 100 years of women’s vote in UK, and soon the idea for the 100 for the 100th event was born. Thanks to the support from the Scottish Government we were able make it a reality in just a couple of weeks - busy women make things happen!
This was just the first step for us, and we dreamed of something really big and audacious to celebrate 100 years of women being able to stand for election and to build on the legacy of the suffrage movement beyond 2018. And again, thanks to the support of the Scottish Government we are beyond excited to start #ScotWomenStand campaign, which will focus on 7 practical steps women can take to get elected and will culminate with a big intergenerational event in September (I wish I could tell you more about it now, but all will be revealed soon!).
My own political journey started early. I come from a family of activists – my father was a political prisoner at 16 for writing, printing, and distributing a newsletter attacking the communist government of Poland. He taught me how important my voice is and how seemingly small actions can create a seismic shift. I still remember the first time I was able to vote, the Polish presidential elections of 2005 (just a couple of months before I moved to Scotland), and the sense of excitement and importance I felt on that cold October day. The elections did not go the way I hoped for, but that just made me more determined to make my voice louder and louder.
But I also vividly remember these times when my voice was silenced – most recently during the Brexit referendum in which I couldn’t vote as an EU national. Scotland IS the home I chose, so not being able to use my voice when such an important decision was being made felt particularly painful. I know that the emotional labour of continuing to fight for what you believe in when the times seem dark and bleak and the change is slow to happen can feel like too much, but in those moments of doubt I always remember that if it wasn’t for the generation of my parents chipping away at seemingly indestructible political structures I wouldn’t be here writing about how I feel without the fear of censorship.
These tiny acts of pulling together really DO matter, and I hope this campaign will make a real difference. Let’s not wait another 100 years for equal representation to become the reality.