When you think about women in the SNP you automatically think of our trailblazer, Winnie Ewing who won the Hamilton seat in 1967 and our current First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon who is one of the most popular and trusted politicians in the country.
We also have some great MP’s and Joanna Cherry, Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh and Dr Philippa Whitford come to mind although there are many more making an impact in Westminster, including our youngest, Mhairi Black.
Two key labour seats were won by SNP women in May this year – Annabelle Ewing and our new SNP MSP, Shirley-Anne Somerville. We look forward to watching Shirley-Anne’s performance as Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science.
Our local Fife Councillor is a woman, Kate Stewart (access her website here) and of the three new SNP Fife Councillors two are women, Fay Sinclair, Dunfermline South and Sharon Wilson, Rosyth.
There is a drive to encourage a 50:50 gender balance in corporate board rooms, council administrations, charitable organisations and in all areas of society. The Scottish Government led the way in forming an equal split of cabinet roles to men and women in the last Scottish Cabinet and again in the new cabinet announced today (18 May 2016).
The West Fife branch has excelled itself in that we have 7 female branch executives and 5 male branch executives. All 12 executives are fully committed and did a wonderful job in the recent Holyrood Campaign.
Our women in key roles in the branch are:
Heather Dennis, Women’s Officer
Fiona Thompson, Deputy Convener
Lucian Marshall, Treasurer
Kath Farrell, Membership Secretary
Eve Thorburn, Minute Secretary
Jennie Smith, Second Officer
Councillor Kate Stewart, Political Education Officer
Gaela Hanlon, Youth Leader. (Gaela is also the Equality Officer for SNP Youth Mid Scotland and Fife).
We also have women from our branch membership who have roles on the 50:50 Dunfermline Constituency Association team: Vicky Hanlon, Women’s Officer (far right) and Alison Anderson, Secretary (far left).
A key role in our Branch is that of Women’s Officer. Our branch Women’s Officer is Heather Dennis who regularly organises events, an example being a visit to the Scottish Parliament to join Annabelle Ewing for lunch and a chat. Heather is third from left in this photograph taken in the Government building.
If you are a female SNP member and want to get involved or want to raise local issues, please come along to our branch meetings where you can meet and chat to Heather and other branch executives (male and female). Our branch meeting schedule can be accessed here.
Women’s Officer Responsibilities.
As per the SNP website, the Role and Responsibilities of the Women’s Officer are shown below.
“There shall be a network of branch and constituency Women’s Officers, supported by the National Women’s Officer. The National Women’s Officer will work with HQ, producing guidance for Branches and Constituency Associations, regarding gender equality issues.
Role of the Branch and Constituency Women’s Officers.
- To assist the National Women’s Officer and the Party in improving gender balance across our membership, our activist base, among office bearers and our elected representatives and to increase support for the Party and independence, among women.
- To attend as Branch or Constituency delegates, at meetings of the Women’s Academy which will take place at least bi-annually at Spring and Autumn Party Conferences. The Women’s Academy will be involved in the implementation of training and mentoring schemes for our female members, consisting of a package of support for women. The aim of the Women’s Academy will be to encourage and support more women to become activists, office bearers and candidates. The Women’s Academy will produce a suite of training programmes and workshops designed specifically for women.
- To recruit and support more women members, organising meetings specifically for women members (if considered an appropriate method of increasing women’s attendance and participation) as well as supporting women in terms of training in campaigning and in holding office bearer positions.
- To identify and encourage women in their Branch or Constituency, to apply for vetting and thereafter to stand as candidates for election. A Guidance document for branches and constituency associations shall be produced by the National Women’s Officer to facilitate the achievement of this.
- To help monitor the progress of the gender equality strategy, by completing on behalf of their Branch or Constituency, an annual questionnaire about gender balance.”