Christina McKelvie spoke in today's Scottish Parliament debate welcoming the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. This originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute back in 1991. There will be a whole range of activities across the world, hinged around the ‘Orange the world: End violence against women and girls’ banner.

 

Christina said: 

"The number 16 is no accident. From 9 November, women in the EU symbolically stop earning for the rest of year because there remains a gender pay gap of 16.3 per cent. Women working part-time earn 34 per cent less per hour, on average, than men working full-time.

Back in 1968, 187 women sewing-machinists at Ford Dagenham in east London struck against sex discrimination in job grading. The women had been placed in the unskilled B grade although they did the same level of work – making car seat covers – as men placed in the semi-skilled C grade. The women, even at their lower grade, were paid 85 per cent of the male B rate.

"The women met a lot of hostility from their male colleagues and a confused response from the trade unions but they held firm and gained in confidence. In the end, the Form women won 92 per cent of the men’s rate, though it took another 16 years and another strike lasting seven weeks to win the re-grading.

"The strike gave a huge impetus to the women’s movement. In the years that followed, women’s trade union membership soared and the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970.

The Trade Union Bill going through Westminster now would probably have rendered the sewing machinists’ strike illegal had it been in force.

"When it comes to women in the workforce, in families and in education, we are moving backwards not forwards: on pay, on skills, on opportunities and on cultural attitudes.

"Our own Welfare Reform Committee has found that women are disproportionately impacted by welfare reform across a range of issues and benefits.

"In 2006, Britain was placed 9th in the world’s equality stakes. By last year, it had dropped to 26th.

"It might be nice in a perfect world to think we didn’t need such a campaign but that would be complete fantasy. It is certainly a blight on our so-called western democratic society that we have singularly failed to move the struggle for equality forward very much.

"We take a lot for granted. We are used to thinking that education is a public good and a fundamental human right recognised in Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We in Scotland have a far longer tradition of supporting free education for all. The current Tory government in power in Westminster continues to deny that freedom to students and looks set to reduce those human rights we currently live by.

"In spite of the Declaration, many children across the globe are missing out on an education. With the increase in radical Islam, we are seeing more and more girls denied the opportunity to learn. We saw the fierce fight put up by Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest ever Noble Prize laureate. That she stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban for so doing is a vicious reminder of the price of learning in certain countries.

"In 2014, global military spending stood at $1.8 trillion, while experts cite a $26 billion financing gap to achieve basic education for all by the end of 2015. Children and young people of all genders can face further disadvantage due to disability, race or ethnic origin, economic difficulties and family whether in times of violent conflict, after an environmental disaster, or during relative peacetime.                                                                          

"Girls and young women face early marriage or forced marriage that can cut short their education; the threat of different forms of school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV), including sexual violence and abuse on the way or within education settings and discrimination in the availability of essential infrastructure such as adequate and safely accessible sanitary facilities.

“The political, economic, and social implications of the right to and denial of education must be at the forefront of the agenda for policymakers, communities, and concerned individuals. When we have women, girls, people with disabilities, LGBTQI people, migrants, and indigenous people denied the right to education in safe and equal spaces, we as a world community stand to lose. It is imperative that for gender-based violence to end, we work to end all forms of discrimination,” says Krishanti Dharmaraj, Executive Director of CWGL, global coordinator of the 16 Days Campaign.

"The Scottish Government has a duty and a commitment to doing just that; to working against discrimination however it manifests. Our progressive approach in legislation to ban revenge porn, provide better support for the victims of violence and outlaw human trafficking are all important achievements and we are right to be proud of them.

"Recent data shows that about 38 million people are internally displaced worldwide, while 16.7 million are refugees. Girls and young women in particular are most adversely impacted by insecurity and crisis, with the most recent estimates showing that 31 million girls at primary level and 34 million at lover secondary level are not enrolled in school, and 15 million girls and 10 million boys will never see the inside of a classroom. As many as 58 million children of primary school age do not have access to education, with some half of these – 28.5 million – living in conflict-affected areas.

"Nearly two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women, a proportion that has remained stubbornly unchanged for the past 20 years according to the World’s Women 2015 report.

"It is this lack of ready access to education that has prompted the global theme of the 16 Days Campaign. ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All.’

"Now is the time for all of us to join in advancing the right to education and challenging violence, discrimination and inequality in education at the intersection of gender, race or ethnicity, religion, real or perceived sexual orientation, socio-economic status and the other social identifiers.

"Let’s all ‘orange the world’ in the next 16 days."