Maggie Chapman is the Scottish Green Party’s lead candidate for the North East region in the upcoming Scottish Parliamentary Elections, and the co-convenor for the SGP nationally.
Ana Hine asked her to respond to the Women’s Equality Party’s six main policies.
(Ana Hine) How can we achieve equal representation for women in politics, business, and industry?
(Maggie Chapman) Gender-balancing and gender-including mechanisms (such as joint female/male positions, zipped lists, women-only lists, etc) can be used in politics and governance structures to ensure equal representation for women. In business and industry, I think it is important to work on initiatives that work to readdress gender imbalance (such as Athena SWAN to get more women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). However, it is also important to look at other structural issues: ensuring women do not face discrimination in the workplace if they become mothers, closing the gender pay gap, and so on.
How can individual women ensure they receive fair payment for work done and equal access to opportunities within work?
Collective action is vital to ensure a just and fair workplace. Trade Unions must take gender equality issues more seriously, and they need women to get involved to do this. Women are also more likely to respond to opportunities if encouraged to do so by others. So, as a woman who is able to make my voice heard, I have a responsibility to encourage and support other women to do likewise.
How can parenting and caregiving be made easier within the North East and Scotland?
There are several key Scottish Green policies that would improve the lives of carers and parents: Citizens’ Income and Carers Wage are perhaps the two most significant. If we value people for simply being human, not because they are part of the capitalist economic machine, then we will begin to see a better and fairer society. Caregiving is so often not valued at all, and we need to use mechanisms such as a Carers Wage to ensure that such a vital part of our society is taken seriously.
How can our education system be improved to ensure young people of all genders thrive and are employable upon leaving education?
We must ensure our education institutions recognise and value diversity, and embed this diversity into their teaching. Our education system must not be subject to the whims of religious lobbies that seek to imposes gender roles and identities on society. There are also important initiatives, such as Athena SWAN, that can be used to encourage women to follow career paths that might have traditionally been seen as ‘male.’
How can the mainstream and alternative media improve the situation of women?
We have to challenge gender stereotyping wherever we see it, and call out sexist and discriminatory behaviour in the media. Social media can be a great way to challenge such discrimination and prejudice, as we saw with Glasgow’s response to Roosh V recently. There is a significant cultural challenge in mainstream media, however: gender and age discrimination has an impact in all broadcasting, for instance, and we just need to provide the alternative narrative wherever possible.
How can we reduce violence against women and the culture of violence within the North East and Scotland?
We must stand up against austerity: this ideological attach on our society is violence, and it disproportionately affects women (women bear the effects of 85% of cuts). We have to use our education institutions to ensure that our young people have equality embedded in all their learning experiences. We must fund organisations that support the victims of abuse and violence properly. And we must enable financial independence for women through a Citizens’ Income, Living Wage, Carers Wage, and affordable housing.
Words: Ana Hine
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