Friends of mine have published an open letter to women in Scotland regarding the upcoming independence referendum. They are all three feminist activists who work on women’s issues, with reputable expertise in their professional arenas.
I was invited to add my name, and I will do so at the end of the letter, but I need to clarify something. I am a permanent resident of Scotland who has lived here for 13 years and raised my daughter here, and I consider it my home – for those reasons, I feel entitled to hold a view about the referendum. However, I am not yet a nationalised citizen of this country (it’s expensive! I’ve never yet had the spare cash) so I will not be able to vote on 18th September – and for that reason, I do not feel entitled to campaign directly in the effort to persuade anyone else on how to vote. Please consider my signature a mark of support for the thoughts outlined below, rather than an official campaign action.
Open letter to women in Scotland
“Should Scotland be an independent country?” This question invites us to imagine a new future, one that just might transform the lives of women and girls. But as 18 September approaches, we must not allow the sheer breadth of our vision to obscure the stark consequences of a No vote. For those still on the fence, let us be very clear: A No vote is not a vote for the status quo.
Let us remind ourselves about the easy nature of political promises – promises previously unkept – and the importance of relying on ourselves to make change rather than hoping that others will do so. Let us think calmly about the likelihood of a feminist agenda progressing in any Westminster government of the near future. And let us imagine the costs we are already paying for austerity, multiplied many times by a Westminster whose power would be unchecked by the possibility of a Yes vote.
We think you should vote Yes on 18 September. Not because we think independence will guarantee gender justice, but because our foresisters organised and argued, campaigned and cared, risked and rebelled to ensure that Scotland has used its devolved powers to make a better nation for women.
We think you should vote Yes on 18 September because, standing on their shoulders, we can imagine a Scotland that embraces the politics of dignity, justice, and care, in which all participate, animated by the spirit of equality and liberation.
Feminists have long advocated for different approaches to those taken by successive Westminster governments – to the economy, to international development, to human rights, to immigration and asylum, to international relations, to abortion and reproductive rights, to employment and the labour market, to access to justice, to nuclear weapons, and to anti-discrimination law.
Independence will bring decision-making on these critical issues closer to Scottish women. Independence will bring opportunities for the voices of Scottish women to resound in the places of decision-making.
We vote Yes with hope rooted in the courage and resilience of Scotland’s women. We vote Yes with determination to bring forth a better nation.
Lesley Orr, Marsha Scott, Nel Whiting
in solidarity, Julia Macintosh