There’s a change in the air with the coming of spring, but it was still cold and there were some snow flurries as the crowd of around 150 – mostly women – assembled in Victoria Tower Gardens on Saturday 2nd April to listen to an impressive array of speakers.
As the day warmed and brightened in the spring sunshine, we heard a set of inspiring and passionate speeches. Women have had enough, they said. We know that we can’t rely on the government or the police to protect our rights to single-sex spaces, or to deal with vexatious complaints against us properly. Employers have shown that they will not protect our rights at work as they fail to apply employment and equality laws appropriately, not without being taken to court anyway. By which time the damage is done.
No more anti-scientific nonsense
The time has come to make it clear to our elected officials that women will not put up with this anti-scientific nonsense that is hurting us and hurting our children. Men who want to be women are just that – men. As Maya said: ‘When it comes to single-sex services, sports, child safeguarding, situations where sex really matters, they’re not able to bring policies that protect women and protect children, and protect trans people, because they’ve muddled up sex with the idea of gender identity.’
But we’re going to change that. By joining together in our local groups and through the WRN we are going to make sure women’s voices are heard. Heather is right: ‘The women coming forward, many are still afraid to come forward, but as they see people like me speaking out, this group meeting here, having this display of solidarity, we're saying to them, “You can take the next step too because there's more of us here than you think.”'
Taking the debate to the doorstep and the streets
So we’ve taken the debate off social media and on to our doorsteps and the streets. When politicians ask what we’re concerned about we will make it very clear that this issue above all others concerns us, because if they can’t define us, how can they protect us? We’ll be talking about it at work and with friends, and we’re not afraid of the slurs and defamation because they are so obviously untrue. And because we have the support of each other.
Women are joining forces and reaching across the political divide. The speakers, who were from all political persuasions, spoke passionately and from the heart:
Caroline ffiske (Women Uniting),
Joanna Cherry (SNP),
Kate Harris (LGB Alliance),
Marion Calder (ForWomen Scotland),
Heather Binning (Women’s Rights Network),
Maya Forstater (Sex Matters),
Alison Jenner (Liberal Voice for Women),
Ceri Williams (Labour Women’s Declaration)
Karen Varley (Conservatives for Women)
They all understand that the existential threat to women’s rights is greater than any political tribalism. Joanna Cherry said that she thought the fight for Scottish Independence was to be the fight of her life, only to find that this is more important to her.
Just the beginning...hear us roar!
The atmosphere amongst those listening was wonderful, enthusiastic, and joyous. Women who had only known each other online finally met in real life and hugged each other in delight. We cheered and applauded these wonderful women who have been speaking up for us for a long time and are finally starting to be heard.
We walked from the gardens to Parliament Square where we gathered in the sunshine, and we were joined by Rosie Duffield and her cute little dog. The smiles were huge and the chanting at Millicent Fawcett’s statue was magnificent. She would have been so proud.
No good meet up would be complete without a pub lunch to follow, and the Barley Mow was the perfect place for the post event party of exuberant women and men. We all had so much to say to each other. So many smiles, so many friends but be in no doubt, so much work to be done.
This is just the beginning. Women aren’t dinosaurs, but you will hear us roar.