26/09/2015 07:53 BST | Updated 26/09/2015 08:59 BST

Kezia Dugdale Says More Feminists Are Needed In Positions Of Power, Not Just Women In Top Jobs

Feminists in positions of power are what is needed rather than simply women in top political jobs, Scottish Labour’s new leader is set to say.

Speaking at Labour’s annual women’s conference in Brighton, Kezia Dugdale is to argue that having women in high office is not enough.

According to the Press Association, the Scottish Labour leader will say: "She will insist: "We don't just need women in positions of influence, but feminists in positions of power."

She will continue: "Much has been made of the fact that in Scotland we have all three main parties led by women.

"But, as we struggle for equality, we should remember that while we want equal representation for its own sake, it is also a means to an end. It must be used to deliver equality for all women, not just politicians.

Kezia Dugdale wants to see more feminists in positions of power

"I get frustrated when I hear people say that having a woman in power is an inspiration, as if that by itself is enough to transform the lives of young women in Scotland.

"Young women are told 'if you are good enough and work hard enough, you can achieve anything'.

"We hear it each time a woman is elected to high office and we hear it again in Scotland today. It just isn't true."

Females still face barriers that men do not, she will argue, saying: "There are young women who, no matter how hard they work, will never achieve what they want because of the institutional discrimination they will come up against.

"Whether it is access to science and technology skills, tackling the gendered violence that one in four women will face, the culture of low-paid, low-skilled, part-time work, or the motherhood penalty, where women lose positions or promotions for going on maternity leave.

"Having female leaders talking about these issues is a start, but it is only a start."


There are currently three female party leaders at Holyrood, SNP leader Ms Sturgeon and Dugdale joined by Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

Dugdale will make a veiled attack on Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first female first minister, as she insists it is Labour that has achieved most to help transform the lives of women across the country.

She will point to her party's record in introducing the minimum wage, passing the Equality Act, improving maternity and paternity leave and expanding childcare.

She will add: “"These things have all made a massive difference to women in this country and it was a Labour government that achieved them. It wasn't the Tories and it certainly wasn't the SNP."

An SNP spokeswoman said: "On becoming Scotland's first female First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon sent out a strong signal of her determination to achieve true gender equality by appointing the UK's first gender-balanced cabinet - and one of very few gender-balanced cabinets anywhere in the world.

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"Under the SNP, more women are in work than in any other UK nation, the number of women studying full-time at college is up 15% and we are taking action to achieve gender balance on public and private boards.

"We know that there is much more to do if we are to achieve true gender equality but we need the powers to do so.

"Kezia Dugdale should encourage her colleagues at Westminster to back the devolution of employment and equalities policy so that these powers rest with the Scottish Parliament and not Tories in Whitehall."

Yvette Cooper is also due to speak at the conference, where she will announce a crackdown on online "misogynistic abuse" that risks oppressing women and is a throwback to the "Victorian age" where speaking up was prohibited.

The former Cabinet minister will say tackling bullying is the first campaign of her new Commission on Women and Technology, condemning the "unacceptable" trolling women suffered during the Labour leadership, general election and Scottish referendum campaigns.