For Women Scotland was formed in June 2018 amid growing unease about how women’s rights would be affected by the Scottish Government’s plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow for self-declaration of sex.
Our concerns were recognised in June 2019 when the Government announced that further public consultation was necessary before making any changes to the law. Analysis of the responses to this consultation has been postponed due to Covid-19 and no further action will be taken until after the Scottish election in May 2021.
However, many organisations are acting as though self-declaration of sex is already law, bringing in policies that encourage men to enter women’s and girls’ spaces. Examples include hospital wards, refuges, changing rooms, toilets, school and girl guide overnight accommodation, hostels, university rooms, and prisons. Medical treatment and research, crime statistics, programmes for women in politics and STEM subjects, and women’s sports are also adversely affected.
We have grown considerably in number over the last few years and we will all continue to speak up for women’s rights, however we can, to challenge the ongoing push from Government funded lobby groups to overwrite sex-based rights in legislation and public policy with the undefined and unscientific gender identity.
Who we are:
For Women Scotland registered as a not-for-profit company in July 2020 (Company number: SC669393). We do not receive any public money and are not aligned to any political party. We are all volunteers.
Our aims are to:
- Campaign on equality and human rights issues impacting on women and children in Scotland.
- Work closely with central, devolved and local governments across the UK and with each of the main political parties in the UK to promote the interests and rights of women in Scotland.
- Participate in cultural and education activities and seek to raise awareness of cultural, health, social and socio-economic issues specifically associated with ordinary women in Scotland.
- Seek, among other things, to promote the welfare of ordinary women in Scotland in terms of their visibility and recognition and access to health and social services, as well as greater participation in civil society in Scotland.
We believe that there are only two sexes, that a person’s sex is not a choice, nor can it be changed. Women are entitled to privacy, dignity, safety and fairness. Our legal rights should be protected and strengthened.
We campaign on a positive, pro-women basis and call for evidence based discussion and legislation.
What we do:
Consultations. After canvasing women’s opinions we submit responses to Scottish and UK Government consultations. These have included the Census Amendment Bill and the Hate Crime Bill, both of which we were invited to give oral evidence to the Parliament Committees. The Committee scrutinising the Census decided to drop the addition of a ‘third sex’ option but National Records Scotland is still proceeding with guidance to answer the sex question on a self-identified basis. We continue to press for this to be on biological sex so that accurate data about women can be collected in the 2022 census. The Hate Crime Bill is still ongoing and we are calling for sex to be added to Part 1 of the Bill on aggravated offences – women are the single group subject to the highest proportion of hate crimes and should not be omitted from the Bill. We are also seeking strong freedom of expression protections in Part 2 of the Bill to ensure women can speak freely about their rights without being labelled transphobic.
Public Meetings. Prior to the pandemic we held several large, very popular, meetings in Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as several smaller ones focusing on the GRA consultation. We have also provided speakers at other events and, during a break in lockdown, held an open Speakers’ Corner meeting where women spoke about the personal cost of speaking up about our rights.
We speak with MSPs and all-party groups to promote women’s rights and campaign for consultation and amendments to Bills progressing through Parliament.
We initiated the #sixwords campaign that led to a change in the Forensic Medical Services Bill to allow victims of rape and sexual assault to request a medical examiner by their sex (and not gender).
Judicial Review. A well-supported crowdfunder has allowed us to challenge the redefinition of “woman” in the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act. We believe the Scottish Government acted outwith its competency in allowing males to be included as women, and in excluding many females. The hearing was in January and a judgement is expected in April 2021.
Within the bounds of lockdown we hope to plan events and actions for International Women’s Day on 8th March and look forward to canvassing prospective MSPs and parties on their commitment to women’s rights in the upcoming Scottish election.