Thursday 8 February
Marking the centenary of Women’s right to votes, female MSPs gathered in the chamber prior to the debate this week.
In contributing to the debate I spoke about Janie Allan a Glasgow woman who was at the forefront of the suffrage movement in Scotland. Janie was instrumental in re-founding the Glasgow branch of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage as the Glasgow and West of Scotland Association for Women’s Suffrage and served on its executive.
I also took the opportunity to highlight Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington one of Ireland’s most ardent promoters of women’s rights. She was an influential figure during the suffragette movement, tirelessly campaigning for the equal status of men and women in Ireland. There is also a family connection with Hanna being my granddaughters great, great, great grandmother. An inspirational role model.
You can read my full contribution here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11353&i=103243
Huge congratulations to my colleague Gillian Martin MSP on her campaign to boost internet safety for young people which I wholeheartedly support.
Parents should speak with their children to make sure they know how to stay safe online and understand the risks of posting certain information – and I am glad to be involved in the campaign to raise awareness of this serious issue.
I would also encourage pupils across Glasgow to take part in a nationwide film competition that aims to raise awareness of the dangers related to sending nude photos online. This is a great initiative that gives children across Glasgow the opportunity to engage with these dangers in a creative manner.
We must all do what we can to help protect our children when it comes to their online activity.
Children’s Mental Health Week 2018 is running from 5 – 11 February. Children’s Mental Health Week theme this year is encouraging children, young people and adults to celebrate their uniqueness. It’s all about #BeingOurselves!
Charitable organisation Place 2 Be launched the first ever Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015 to support children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. Now in its fourth year, they hope to encourage more people than ever to get involved and spread the word.
I stopped by their stall in the Parliament this week to chat with them about their work with young people and what work they are doing to support children and young people.
You can find out more about Place 2 Be and Children’s Mental Health Week at https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/about-the-week/
Stand Up to Racism
On Saturday I was asked to take part in the Stand Up to Racism conference at the Unison Offices on Bell Street.
We covered many areas including welcoming refugees and migrants, defending EU nationals rights and freedom of movement, racism, Islamophobia and anti Semitism.
It is heartening to have so many people come together to articulate on these issues and lend their support to the campaign however it is also appalling that we should be in a position where we are having to defend other human beings rights.
Celtic Connections Showcase Scotland
Approaching its 19th year, I was delighted again to address this year’s Creative Scotland event Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections which introduces international and worldwide audiences to new music.
Its aim is to secure performances for Scottish based artists on a global scale – creating new audiences for existing artists and introducing new artists to existing audiences.
This year there was a very close partnership with Culture Ireland maximising international exposure for Scottish artists who share so much in common.
And of course this is the 25th year of Celtic Connections and the Year of Young People what better way to celebrate than the success of the Scottish Government funded Youth Music Initiative.
Afghan interpreters who worked for the British army will receive support to attend Scottish universities and colleges after the Scottish Government announced a change in residency criteria.
Locally employed staff interpreters from Iraq who had settled in the UK were entitled to support as they had been given indefinite leave to remain. Afghan interpreters, however, had been given five years’ leave rather than indefinite leave to remain, and were therefore not previously eligible for student support.
I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has taken action to help Afghan interpreters who served with UK forces build a new life in Scotland. This discrepancy was caused by the fact that Afghan interpreters were given temporary, rather than indefinite, leave to remain – unlike Iraqi interpreters. That UK government decision left Afghan interpreters ineligible for student support. I’m glad that, after I raised this issue, the Scottish Government has taken action and will allow these brave interpreters to access education.
Good to meet up with representatives from Caledonian University, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow University (pictured), Royal Conservatoire and Strathclyde University this week at a parliamentary reception organised by Universities Scotland.
The event was highlighting widening access to higher education following the publication of Working to Widen Access last month. Whilst most institutions are making progress to ensure that people from the most deprived areas of Scotland have access to higher education there will always be room for improvement.
Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science and Universities Scotland Convener Professor Andrea Nolan OBE, were keynote speakers.
All 19 higher education institutions were represented by both practitioners and students, sharing their personal stories about how they have been working to widen access and why it’s important that everyone should be able to benefit from higher education.
Scotland’s population projections show there is an ‘overwhelming case’ for Scotland to have the power to tailor its own migration policy, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop has said.
With the number of deaths expected to outweigh the number of births for every year until 2040, action is required to maintain and grow Scotland’s working age population to help support the welcome fact that people are living longer.
A new Scottish Government discussion paper on migration looks in detail at the impact that falling migration levels would have on Scotland’s economy and what a devolved migration policy could look like.
The paper sets out ways in which the Scottish Government could be given a greater say on UK migration policy in support of Scotland’s needs, as well as options for a Scotland-specific migration system.
You can read the discussion paper here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00531087.pdf
Please note there will be no Ebrief next week due to recess. The Ebrief will resume on Thursday 22 February.