100 years of women’s suffrage

Today in 1918 the Representation of the People Act granted women over the age of 30 the right to vote. 10 years later universal suffrage was achieved. This was a tremendous mile stone for women but the need to continue the fight for gender equality still exists today.

Equal rights for women has progressed in many ways over the years but sadly the gender gap is still apparent. There are numerous examples of this inequality; women are still paid on average less than men and there are fewer women represented at the most senior level of industry. The #MeToo campaign has also highlighted just how shamefully widespread sexual assault and harassment is in today’s society.

Too many women feel that they do not have a voice and we need to work to change that. I was encouraged when I attending the debate by the vote in the Scottish Parliament last week to pass the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill which will now includes psychological abuse and coercive control as an offence eligible for prosecution.

The totality of abuse over time can now be considered as a single offence by the Courts. This also send a clear message to persecutors. I am proud that Scotland is the first country to take the step to criminalise this behaviour.

This Act acknowledges the traumatic and enduring harm psychological and emotional abuse causes and I hope it gives victims the confidence to come forward knowing that they will be listened to.

My colleague Rhoda Grant MSP led the debate for Scottish Labour and highlighted concern that the Act does not address the issue of contact with affected children after a divorce which was recognised by the Scottish Government.

Here’s to more progress in the next 100.

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