Women of the Movement

Councillor Anne Horn - #ScotWomenStand Role Model & Supporter

SNP Councillor for Kintyre and the Islands, in Argyll & Bute, Cllr Anne Horn is a highly active campaigner for equality, and the end of violence against women, as well as a supporter of renewable energy and sustainability for the Argyll & Bute communities.

*Content warning: Domestic abuse.*

Cllr Anne Horn, SNP, of Argyll & Bute.

Cllr Anne Horn, SNP, of Argyll & Bute.

I recall a defining moment at an early point in my career when I found myself on the path of a women whose story opened my eyes and clarified, within me, the feeling that I must use my voice for those who are unable, for many reasons, to find or use their own.

I found myself listening to a lady, who had recently fled her home, picked up her children barefooted from her garden and ran to safety in fear of her life at the hands of her husband. She was from a good home, her husband, a well-known and upstanding member of the community. Her children well dressed and well behaved. She had flown from her garden that day, not knowing quite where she would go. He had held a knife to her, she was no longer willing to stay silent and suffer.

At that point, I was inspired by her courage, her resolve and in all her vulnerability the strength she had found, within herself, to bring about change, to rescue herself and to begin to rebuild from a new beginning.

My own journey took a turn and I began to understand that I too had to find courage to use my voice in spaces where I could make a real difference.

Since becoming a councillor, every day has offered opportunity, often finding myself in corners, on behalf of individuals or my community, which are difficult. I brought some skills which have been useful but I’ve continually been building more. Diplomacy, tact, strength and discernment regularly feature in my work and I value the every present opportunity to work alongside others, recognising the skills and energy they bring and coming together to resolve issues and find ways to move forward.

I would encourage other women to go into local politics. There is a growing support network and it is very rewarding.

Alongside her role as Councillor, Cllr Horn is the Director of Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust, and an active member of both the Tarbert Youth Music Initative, and the Argyll and Bute VAW Multi Agency Partnership. Find out more about Cllr Anne Horn, including how to get in touch with her, on the Argyll & Bute Council website.

Dr Vikki Turbine - #ScotWomenStand Role Model & Supporter

Learning and listening as ‘Feminists in Progress’:  for a feminist political education.  By Dr Vikki Turbine


I have been a Politics Lecturer for the past 10 years. I will soon be leaving my post and academia, but that is another story for another day. 

In this blog, I want to reflect on what I have learnt as a Lecturer in a ‘Feminist Politics’ classroom.  Speaking to one of the core themes in this stage of the campaign; Understanding Politics & Democracy. 

I want to outline why I am optimistic for the future and for this campaign. 

I will also reiterate why I think this campaign is so necessary and urgent.  There is such a long way to go before women will feel willing to take the risks that standing up in formal politics still sadly entails.  

We have reasons to be optimistic about a wider context of feminism in progress.  We have seen the changes sparked by #metoo,  the marking of the centenary of some women’s suffrage in the UK last year, and have celebrities such as Jameela Jamil using their platform to critically reflect on, and raise the profile of feminism. Importantly reminding us that we are all ‘feminists in progress’. 


None of us have our feminism perfect. 

At the same time, we are reminded all to frequently of the misogynistic and racist abuse faced by women who try to bring feminist politics into the public arena.  One recent example, the abuse Kimberle Crenshaw - the theorist and activist who gave us intersectionality - faced from an anti-feminist audience member at the LSE reveals how we are also in a moment of active push back against feminism.  


Even, within education, the place of feminism - when tied to an active politics education - remains marginal and marginalised.  We are at a moment where we need alternative disruptions and voices, but where the turmoil of this moment actively attempts to close them out. 

feminism-thoughts-workshop

Indeed, the students I work with often report that my class is the first time they have had the opportunity to study feminism in any meaningful way - and, more importantly, to gain a voice for their own feminist politics. 

In my teaching, I adopt a reflective and creative process of assessment - asking students to link their voices and experiences to feminist theory and activism.  Asking them to think about why feminism is urgent in addressing the problems we face. Encouraging them to move beyond the individual to the collective.  Asking them to work together to write manifestos and make collages out of the anti-feminist politics they live.  This process reveals how much appetite there is to learn more about feminism, in a judgement free space.  And, how much learning there is to be done about what it is like to be a young person, a woman living in Scotland and the UK now. 


The young people I work with are politically engaged and want to learn.  To have the language to express their experiences.  To begin to own their experiences. 


We have so much to learn from our young people. 

Feminism allows us this opportunity - lets not waste it. 

zines-creative-political-empowerment

For any campaign that wants women to come forward and stand,  to enter into the multiple spaces that make up the political, we must have the tools not only to understand the maelstrom of structural, cultural, economic, and political constraints there. 

We must also have the analytical and critical insights that feminism give us - so that we can see how current processes create opportunities for some, and resolutely exclude others.  As Sophie Walker, the leaders of the Women’s Equality Party, said in her resignation statement ‘we need people that bruise’. 


Yet, we also need spaces in which those bruises can heal, for the collective.  We need new voices that will transform the current political context.  We need to ensure that education plays it’s role here. 

Not telling young women what they should do, but allowing them to tell those in power what they should be doing. 





Dr Vikki Turbine is a Lecturer in Politics with research and teaching interests in feminism, human rights, education and class. She tweets @VikTurbine and is on Instagram as @vikturbine. She also blogs at: https://firstgenerationfeminist.blogspot.com 

Jenny Marr - #ScotWomenStand Role Model & Supporter

Empowered and mobilised through her life in the Scottish Borders, and work as member of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Jenny Marr sees the full potential of women in politics, making significant positive change for all a reality.

Jenny addresses us all as members of the #ScotWomenStand campaign, and movement, with mighty words of encouragement to register and use our votes!

jenny-marr-scotwomenstand

Using your vote… It’s another thing to add to the to-do list, isn’t it?

And of course first you have to register to do it.

Then there’s the wading through of manifestos, trying to understand policies, which are not exactly the work of Shakespeare. Then there's the appeal of Love Island, or similar, which are just too all-consuming to consider anything else.

Been there, got the t-shirt. Trust me, I understand.


But what is the alternative? Be left out? Let your voice go unheard?

I know its certainly true that many politicians need to be better at keeping in touch. But don’t allow the laziness of some to block your participation.

Your voice is worth so much more than that.

Women have the right to tell their story, and have fought for that right - some are still fighting. And part of that is through putting a cross on a ballot paper in the privacy of the polling booth.

It’s your school, it’s your health centre, it’s your money. And it goes deeper than that. It’s your grandma who can’t get her flu jab this year, it’s your child whose classroom is too small, or their resources too few. It’s your hard-earned taxes.

Don’t exclude yourself from the narrative. Don’t overthink it. Don’t leave it to someone else.



Sometimes someone in your life is a bigger influence than they were ever able to know. My Grandad, who died when I was just eight, was a Cllr in the North of England.  He was an advocate for, and passionate defender of, local democracy and local government.

He believed in “parish pump politics”, of chewing the fat in the Market Square and fixing problems as a community. Before local government was reorganised, and Councils became much bigger, he said “We have our grumbles and grouses, but at least the system had a soul.”

More than that, the community had a voice, and used it.

They used it by voting.

Politicians are like everyone else. They have their strengths and weaknesses and certainly none of them are perfect.  And if you want to make sure the right ones are hired and fired coming polling day, you can.

By voting you can turn round to them and say I voted for you, I put my trust in you. You really can hold them to account.

The best thing is – apart from how quick and easy the process is – you don’t even have to pick any of them! Leave your ballot blank, spoil it, write a message. All ballots have to be verified, so it will be seen! My favourite was a drawing of a cat, and believe me, that’s not the strangest thing I’ve seen!

Voting plays its part in determining who we are - as a person and as a nation. What we stand for.

If you’re disillusioned, you have every right to be. But disengagement won’t fix it. Don’t make it easier to be ignored.

Play your part.  Because progress is often achieved by small, but not insignificant acts. Like clicking on this link. Or by registering for a postal vote and walking the 2 minutes to the post box. It matters, because you matter.

You can follow Jenny, and all of her community empowering work, over on Twitter @BordersJen.

Read more about Jenny’s recent selection by her party, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, to stand as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency.  It’s an extra dose of inspiration, to raise your voice and be heard in the forums of political decision making!




Lauren Bennie - #ScotWomenStand Role Model & Supporter

Empowered and mobilised through her extensive work in Scottish communities and organisations, Lauren Bennie sees the full potential of women to take up space, and make real positive change for all a reality. Lauren addresses us all as members of the #ScotWomenStand campaign and movement, with encouraging and supportive words.

Lauren Bennie - Inspiring woman of Scottish & UK politics.

Lauren Bennie - Inspiring woman of Scottish & UK politics.

We need more EVERYONE in politics. We need elected members who have lived experiences like knowing what it means to rent homes on insecure tenancy agreements for decades while saving for a home deposit, or those of us who have been made redundant and had to return to the job centre week in week out to face a different work coach on every occasion, or those of us who understand the pressures of travelling to work on delayed trains and infrequent rural bus services to be faced by an unforgiving employer. Very often it is our experienced care-givers and our home-based family project managers who live closest to the everyday politics, and are best placed to represent us at every tier of our country’s government - from the school PTA, to the village’s Community Council, to a city’s Area Partnership and local authority, or the chambers of our Scottish and UK Parliaments.

We especially need more women in politics. #ScotWomenStand together.

We support one another, we work across party divides. In my Community Council we work on consensus and if we don’t get that, we move to respectful compromise. We don’t need to be bogged down by overtly bureaucratic and archaic voting systems or secret ballots when we can listen to one another and find our own ways forward in the interest of the communities we serve.

#ScotWomenStand up for our rights to be recognised and equal.

I’m a Girlguiding volunteer working with girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 18. As young women, our focus is often steeped in compassion, with care and enveloped in a fairness for all. Every week I see the power of girl-led campaigning and community action. From addressing period poverty in our local village, meeting volunteers from Scottish Women’s Aid or challenging the idea of “women’s jobs” by meeting female vets, entrepreneurs and formula 4 racing drivers, political discourse will always be more vibrant and all-encompassing when we engage with it through our own diverse lived experiences in Scotland.

#ScotWomenStand in line to file important paperwork!

An early step in all of our political journeys is to register to vote. This isn’t just about being able to mark your ballot paper. Being on the electoral register could be your first step towards elected office. To become a Community Council (the most local form of representation), you, your proposer and seconder must all be on the electoral register. The Parliament Project helps you to #GetReadyToStand and part of that journey is being ready at a moment’s notice for a by-, general or even snap election! So get yourself on the electoral register pronto. That’s an easy first step.



Why I want to be a #ScotWomenStand / Hopes for my political career.

Laura rockin’ the #GetReadyToStand tote around the world!

Laura rockin’ the #GetReadyToStand tote around the world!

I knew I wanted to explore how to become more politically engaged long before I attended a Parliament Project workshop in Edinburgh in 2017. I’ve always had the itch to speak up in meetings to represent those with quieter voices, to share an alternative view or play devil’s advocate when a discussion was overtly one-sided. I was often labelled opinionated, feisty, a busy-body…all the usual adjectives used to devalue women. I used them as positive reflection and my own personal power up.

I was the first student (and female) to Chair the Student Representative Council at Dundee Uni, after graduation I went on to work in Westminster as a civil servant and followed that up with a stint working with the national body for local government in England & Wales. When I moved to Glasgow, after attending a couple of community councils I put myself forward for election and have worked my way up over the last few years to become the Chairperson. I’m the third female in succession as Chairperson of my community council. It is a well-known fact that there are more women in these community-led volunteering roles than men. And yet, we are few in numbers in elected capacities, held back by numerous barriers which our male-counterparts are privileged enough not to face. We must not forget that we are phenomenal multi-taskers in our personal, professional and community lives. A perfect quality for future elected members.

What I didn’t know back in December 2017 at the close of the Edinburgh workshop was how the Parliament Project would accelerate the pace of my political journey. As a member of their 2018 Peer Circle Cohort, the team would go on to help me articulate my strengths, commit to my personal pledges, push me towards completing weekly goals and supported my political ambitions by helping me map out my political pathway towards becoming an approved parliamentary candidate for my party. This journey took less than six months.

I love helping people. I fill my month running Guide and Ranger unit meetings, chairing my local Community Council, running several community-based social media channels, volunteering at Parliament Project events and working for a member-led organisation in a professional capacity. My hopes for my political career is simply an extension of this. To help more people in my community have a voice, to act with integrity and strip away all the negative, defensive and unnecessary political posturing I witness day in and day out locally and nationally. If we want to get anything meaningful done, we need to listen to one another, we need to use our lived experiences to work together through consensus and respectful compromise. And…we need more wummin in every tier of Scottish politics!

If I was brave enough I’d keep the Parliament Project’s mantra close to my heart and get, A women’s place is in… parliament, politics, power tattooed across my chest. The Scot in me wants to be a tad more crude in my encouragement of #ScotWomenStand... A woman’s place is wherever the f*** she wants it to be. I’ll see you there.

Kairin Van Sweeden - #ScotWomenRise Role Model & Supporter

Empowered and mobilised by the supportive community created through the 100 for the 100th events of June 2018, Kairin Van Sweeden has gone on to take serious steps towards standing for political office, expanding on her role as Leith SNP Women & Equalities Officer.

Kairin van Sweeden - Leith SNP Women and Equalities Officer

Kairin van Sweeden - Leith SNP Women and Equalities Officer

It was actually due to some bad luck with work in June 2017 that my working timetable changed and I was finally able to get along the branch meetings of Leith SNP. I immediately enjoyed being in the company of political, independence-seeking people.  Coming from a political family, I immediately felt comfortable and mentally stimulated - with a sense of purpose, which I hadn't felt since leaving university in 2015.

I am horrified by the injustices visited upon people by 10 years of austerity and this is on top of many others including the blatant tax evasion of the wealthy, the war in Iraq and the poll tax. There are way too many injustices in the UK actually. In January 2018, I also became involved in the 'Save Leith Walk' campaign and have been aghast at some of the injustices within our planning system. For example, how can several small, local businesses be destroyed at the whim of one larger business? How can a attractive and functional building be destroyed for no good reason apart from profit? There is so much that needs to change here.

After some meetings and campaigning, a few of my co-campaigners suggested that I should think about becoming a councillor but it wasn't until I attended the '100 for a 100' event that I started to think more seriously about standing for political office.

I know that many of my fears are the same as many other women, that is; "I am smart enough?", "Will I let the side down?" However, I realise now that politics is a Geekdom that many people don't inhabit and more women are needed to at least represent our society as it is. So, it is fundamentally for this reason that I think I should put my head above the parapet although I do so with a fair degree of trepidation.

Mary O'Neill - #ScotWomenStand Role Model & Supporter

Empowered and mobilised by the supportive community created through the 100 for the 100th events of June 2018, Mary O’Neill went on to become a politician, committed to many political activities in her local party's branch, where she was recently elected to take the position of the Branch Equality Officer.

Mary O’Neill - Inspiring Woman of Scottish Politics.

Mary O’Neill - Inspiring Woman of Scottish Politics.

I am passionate about structural issues which inadvertently play a role in making social groups including Black African and Minority Ethnic more marginalized. Accordingly, for a very long time I have been longing to get opportunities to raise awareness among key people of the challenges encountered by those groups in trying to overcome problems relating to unemployment and calling for their intervention.  My intention was to get politicians aware of barriers to opportunities experienced by many people from BME communities and call for their response in addressing the problem. Although I never thought before that my passion about equality issues would produce the idea of me being a politician, this passion is what motivated me to get into politics. 

In June 2018 I joined 100 for 100th event bringing together women from Scotland to celebrate the legacy of the Suffragettes and look forward to a time where there is gender balance in political representation. The event was very inclusive and the atmosphere was very welcoming. All facilitators and speakers were extraordinarily inspiring and they were transparently able to make us aware of the current situation in which women are generally underrepresented in the political arena. They mobilized us by clearly informing us about the goals which were intended to be reached in order to remove the polarization between men and women in taking leadership related roles by 2022. I quickly began to have some feelings of togetherness. I believed that I was in the right place, where I could freely participate in sharing my opinions or thoughts. It was very inspiring to be with individuals with similar mindset and I felt so privileged to be part of the large group of women from such different walks of life.

The June event played the key role in bringing me to the main stream from the marginalized. It encouraged me to believe that I could be among those women who will take office by 2022. For the first time I was acknowledged and affirmed that no matter your background is, you can still participate in politics. The Parliament Project has played a significant role in making me aware that  it is possible to become a politician myself in order to address those social problems as I was given such good cooperation and encouragement by the team.  I never thought that I would be starting a political journey in the near future, but due to The Parliament Project's tireless support, I became a politician, and I am now more committed to many political activities in my local party's branch, where I was recently elected to take the position of the Branch Equality Officer.