Rhoda Grant MSP

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Women and Equalities
Speech, Scottish Labour Party conference

9 March 2018

Good morning conference,

We all know that tackling poverty and inequality is not something we debate for an hour and then move on – it is what runs through the whole of Conference.

It is what unites us and drives us in every policy area, our ambition is to create an equal society where everyone reaches their potential; where everyone is a part of that society; where everyone contributes and benefits together.

It is therefore apt that we start with this debate - reminding us why we are here and what we can, and will, achieve together.

This year we celebrated 100 years of votes for women. I wonder what our sisters who fought for the right to vote would think of how far we have come?

I recently learned that women from St. Kilda registered to vote at that first election. They couldn’t vote locally but had to travel to Harris. We take voting so much for granted now. I wonder how many people would make that journey today to vote?

I believe these women would be disappointed that we are still fighting for equality. Not just for women but for the whole of society.

Yesterday we celebrated International Women’s Day. The theme this year was Press for Progress – we have made progress but there is still a long way to go for true equality.

The Usdaw motion talks about ending child poverty.

It promotes steps to combat child poverty and also to combat the impact of child poverty.

We know a child’s life chances are directly affected by their mother’s wealth and education.

Therefore, if women were equal, the whole of society prospers. The Glasgow Pollock CLP Motion rightly points out the financial barrier faced by those seeking bankruptcy

People who have nothing are still expected to find significant amounts of money to access that remedy

Conference,We will also debate health inequalities this weekend. We will look at the life expectancy of people in different parts of our country. It is sad that your place of birth puts your health and life chances into a postcode lottery.

Health inequalities are the outcomes of an unequal society, not the cause.

Our vision is that every child must have the same chance, the same prospects, the same ability to make change.


Imagine if the child who could find a cure for cancer or who could bring about world peace is born into poverty. Their education suffers, their chance to reach their potential is lost and they are likely to die twenty years earlier.

In these conditions they will not find that cure or secure that peace.

It is not only those people who lose out, we all do.

Conference - Together we can create a truly equal society – let us make that our priority.

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