@VoteWithOurFeet on the importance of the Scottish Parliament vote for women
The Sole Sisters have taken our innovative shoe protest all around Scotland in the last four weeks. But there are fewer more iconic spots to stand up for your rights, your freedom and your independence than Stirling Bridge.
We’re not armed with axes but with righteous fury and our colours are the Suffragettes not Braveheart’s.
But our will to protect and defend ourselves is every bit as strong.
In less than 24 hours, Scotland goes to the polls in potentially the most significant election yet for the Scottish Parliament.
The constitutional question is the one that dominates for much of the electorate.
But for 51 percent of the population, the outcome of tomorrow’s vote has much greater significance than whether Scotland gets a second independence referendum or not.
Woman: adult, human female
The existing human rights and protection of every woman and girl in Scotland will hang on who forms the next Scottish Government.
Four out of the five main parties work on a definition of woman (adult, human female) that also includes men (adult, human male).
It is not transphobic to say this is a problem.
The Equality Act 2010 exists to stop discrimination against nine protected characteristics, including sex. And sex, according to the Act, means man or woman.
Women are entitled to single-sex spaces and services, to ask for same-sex care, to participate in female-only sports, to apply for jobs that have an occupational requirement that means only females can be considered (for example, in a women’s refuge or rape crisis centre…).
Those protections are safeguarded by the Equality Act, which applies across the UK. That means the devolved administrations, such as the Scottish Government, cannot make changes to it. Changes can only be made by the Westminster parliament.
Sleight of language to bypass law
But how can we say women can still access single-sex spaces such as toilets or changing rooms or demand to see a female doctor or nurse if woman no longer means adult, human female?
It is by this sleight of language that the Scottish Government is bypassing the Equality Act – and that should worry every single woman in Scotland.
We’ve already seen the effects of this change. Male offenders who claim they are women have been housed in women’s prisons; single-sex wards in hospitals include males who say they are women; legislation designed to improve the number of women serving on public boards in Scotland includes anyone who uses female pronouns.
If the SNP form the next Scottish Government, either as a majority or in coalition with the Greens, they will introduce reforms of the Gender Recognition Act to bring in “gender self-identification”, which would effectively obliterate the meaning of woman, man, female and male altogether.
Respect our sex or forget our X
So, when the parties asking for your vote tomorrow promise the marvellous things they’re going to do for women, be aware – they’re not really thinking of you, your daughter, your mum, your sister, your auntie, your niece, your granny.
Because if anyone can be a woman, nothing is for women.
If you don’t respect our sex, don’t expect our X.