Monica Lennon: Women Will Not Be Silenced
Scottish Labour women have always been the pioneers of equality campaigns in our movement and we will not be silenced.
Women are still treated like dirt by some men. Toxic behaviour towards women is happening in every workplace, in every community and is evident on every social media platform that exists. From the passive-aggressive keyboard warriors to the ‘handsy’ types you run a mile from, women can spot a misogynist and a creep when we see one. The trouble is, when we call it out, the tables are often turned and it’s us as women who are left to take the blame.
Well it has to stop. It has to stop everywhere and it must be driven out of the Labour Party.
At Scottish Labour Party conference in Dundee last month, I was proud to address conference and reinforce the Scottish Executive Committee’s determination to eradicate all forms of discrimination from within our party. In 2017, women all over the world roared ‘times up’ on sexism and sexual harassment. I spoke out about the inadequacies of our own policies and procedures and a culture that didn’t match our values and ambitions for a more equal society. So I am extremely proud that I am contributing to the Equalities and Diversity sub-committees work and was able to move our interim report at Conference.
Our group, guided by an independent advisory panel, will develop a truly comprehensive anti-discrimination and harassment framework to ensure the Scottish Labour Party leads the way on tackling these issues.
We have made our intentions clear but I don’t need to look far on Twitter to find ongoing examples of everyday sexism within our own ranks. A single misogynist tweet by a Labour Party member is one too many. This won’t be tolerated.
Championing equality is part of our DNA and we are taking an intersectional approach that leaves no one behind. Our interim report set out how we will tackle sexual harassment and gender inequality, disability discrimination and racism in all its forms within the party through new, robust procedures. Our work programme will also include improvements to promote LGBTi equality and making sure our party respects people of all age groups.
As a political party rooted in equality, we have a proud history of breaking down barriers, fighting discrimination and shaping the laws of this country to promote equality and fairness, however, everyday sexism is persisting and it is disgraceful that some of our members have experienced anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and discrimination and that all too often, there is a gendered aspect to this abuse.
Genuine advocates of equality in our movement are impatient for change and rightly so. Only an intersectional approach to eradicating all forms of discrimination will achieve the transformative culture change that is worthy of our heritage and our future as a party of government. Scottish Labour women have always been the pioneers of equality campaigns in our movement and we will not be silenced.
Monica Lennon MSP is Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities