Gender and the local elections

Hair, make-up, cooking, and cleaning. It was all there. Imagine it: lines of 11 year old boys and girls ferociously scribbling descriptions about their opposite sex on the whiteboard. We were prepping for Burns Day, our Toast to the Lassies, and the reply. All in good humour, of course … or was it?  CitizenEducation

Many would laugh at the descriptions, and we did, but the activity presented a learning opportunity in the discussion of the gender stereotyping that exists, even in primary schools. We talked of learned behaviour from home, how gender is portrayed across the world of media and in the workplace. Think just primary teaching and the message of its 91% female workforce.

Gender stereotyping which discriminates is strongly linked to violence against women. At first, there may be the seemingly harmless language and relations of the primary school. But there follows the sexual jokes and sexting of secondary school, and thereafter, the potential manifestation of violence against women when such behaviour remains unchallenged.

Prevention is key to ending the violence, and what better tool than education? Or more specifically, a gender equality education to challenge those stereotypes. A survey by Zero Tolerance agrees, and of the Scottish teachers and parents questioned, 98% were concerned such learning was not mandatory. And only recently, the EIS produced ‘Getting It Right for Girls’, a guide for schools on how to spot and challenge those misogynistic attitudes.

The Scottish Government is sending out a strong message against domestic violence, legislating on revenge porn and controlling behaviour, empowering women who have suffered abuse into employment, supporting equality via 50/50, and, through the STEM strategy, challenging gender roles and encouraging more girls into science, education, technology and maths.

If we’re serious about preventing violence against women, local government needs to play a key role in embedding gender equality education across our schools, providing the planning, resourcing and staff training required. Domestic violence impacts heavily on our local services. I’d prefer to use that money to empower our talented, intelligent … and equal … young women.

Alison Dickie is seeking selection as an SNP candidate in next year’s council elections. She was the SNP candidate for Edinburgh Central in this year’s Scottish Parliament elections, losing to Ruth Davidson by 610 votes. More information on Alison see