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The Courage of Ordinary Women, Everywhere

By Mary Howden

Millicent Fawcett said in 1913:

Courage calls to courage everywhere and it's voice cannot be denied

The Women's Rights Network sums up how courage is infectious. Key to this is the support women give to one another.

WRN Scotland is a nationwide group. We organise ourselves in themes and through our main

chat group we offer support to one another. This means that those isolated in remote and rural areas can get support. Women join our network for a number of reasons, but the main reason is the impact of gender identity ideology on them, their families and their children’s lives. We have a common desire to fight for our rights which have been harmed by this. We want dignity, safety and privacy restored for all women and girls.

WRN Scotland has been going for two and a half years now and we have achieved many things in that time. Not least, we are the first women's group to have an event at Holyrood, our parliament, where women could share their experiences of being impacted by the cancel culture that affects so many women today. However, I believe our greatest achievement is helping women speak out.

We each bring different skills and knowledge, and all have different levels of confidence in speaking out. Our wonderful Firebrand Jane could have us marching into war with her if she wanted to. Carolyn is knowledgeable and committed to evidence which she shares. Jean is a wonderful poet and shares her poems - some in Doric. Helen could charm anyone with her smile and then she cuts to the chase with an unexpected razor-sharp message. Brooke hand stitches beautiful banners that convey our message when we can't talk. These are a few examples. We are always there speaking out when opportunities arise. Others in our group are not so confident, others are not able to speak out because of fear of losing their jobs. So those of us who can, do it for everyone.

However, this general election has seen a change in our quieter members speaking up. They have taken steps to speak out, putting their reputations and views out there for all to see. So, let’s celebrate:

Morag; who on BBC Question Time asked about whether Scotland should follow England in banning the teaching of gender as fact. She told everyone that it is wrong to teach a child they can be born in the wrong body.

‘It was intimidating to know that it would be broadcast to the nation, but I knew I had to take the opportunity to speak. To prove to the media and politicians that it is not a side issue. It’s THE issue.  I was reassured by the audience reaction that people DO agree when they have the chance to express an opinion. Since the episode was aired, numerous people I haven’t heard from in years and people I’ve never spoken with before in the office have reached out to say they saw the episode, they agree with me and well done for speaking up. Over all….10/10 would recommend”

Joanna; who went to a husting in Perth on her own. She asked them to tell us what a woman is and how they would protect single sex spaces. Only to be met with derision from the sitting MP.

“My heart nearly stopped when they said my name - it was nearly over.

I’ve never ever spoken in public like that, ever.

I asked ‘What is a woman and how do you propose to protect single sex services?’.

There was a real sense of eye rolling/tutting all around……So it felt pretty hostile, and I was all by myself with my Woman hoodie on. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep”.

Nina; who also went on her own to a husting in a small highland town and asked the same question.

“Oh god I’m so adrenaline-d I hope me standing there gave the youngins some courage.”

Lel; who went with her son to a husting in a small Highland village and asked the same question.

“I would, honestly have bailed or not asked my question if I hadn’t told you all I was going to go. I’d have made some excuse to myself then hated myself for it. Was sitting last night thinking, Jo and Nina are so brave and I just couldn’t do it and here I am.”

As Morag says ‘I knew that I had an army of WRN members behind me and that did give me courage.

For me, this is the real success of the Women's Rights Network our campaigning is great, and we have been successful. But more than that, it has brought an army of women together, given us courage and our voices cannot be denied.



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