Some time ago, I took over Scottish Lib Dem Women after it had sadly lapsed into a hiatus after changes in the circumstances of various committee members. I say “some time ago”, because while there are dates I could point to in the last two years confirming my position, it really now feels like my life’s mission, and it’s hard to put a timeframe on that.
It’s well over a year since someone walked into my office and asked “Are you Ruth of the Women?” and my new identity was born, and in that time I’ve been delighted to get to know so many amazing women in the party in Scotland. My metamorphosis to becoming Ruth of the Women started as part of the famous (infamous) Lib Dem Ladies WhatsApp group, a forum for a group of friends in the party to talk about everything from relationship problems, to who exactly has the set of keys to get into the communal conference Airbnb, to the problems we face as women in politics and in wider life.
This was where I learned the power of women lifting each other up, validating each other’s concerns and even when we can’t come up with a solution, always providing a sympathetic ear and a hug. The inherent empathy and supportiveness of the women in this party has carried so many of us through challenging times, personally and politically.
We know that things are improving, but there are still many challenges to be faced. One of the things I’m proudest of is kicking off a series of #GirlsSupportingGirls events, encouraging our growing network of female activists to visit seats where women are standing, to provide practical support and bolstering voices.
So far this has led me to such far flung places as Shetland and Brecon, and even Edinburgh West. In the year to come we have big plans to reach out across the whole country to make sure our brilliant female candidates make it to Holyrood in 2021. Our mission is to provide a network of support for anyone who identifies as a woman who wants to get involved in Lib Dem politics in Scotland.
Whether they are future local party treasurers, super activists or MSPs, we sincerely believe that the party and politics overall will only represent us when we make up our fair share of the voices on all levels. We will offer advice, boots on the ground where they’re called for, and above everything else, a group of likeminded friends and allies to listen in the good times and the bad.
It hasn’t always been the easiest ride, building Scottish Lib Dem Women back up from the ground. There have been practical and logistical barriers, and no shortage of voices questioning our purpose, goals and methods, but I couldn’t be prouder of what we’re doing.
I would encourage anyone who would like to get involved to reach out to ScottishLibDemWomen@gmail.com and I would be delighted to have a chat.