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Letters / Attitudes still need to change

Last Wednesday evening I waited eagerly to see who I was up against as a candidate for Shetland West. Imagine my surprise when I saw a total of eight declared candidates, a number which is unprecedented for this ward, even before the boundary changes.

This is great for democracy, I thought, but then when looking over the other wards, I noticed the uncontested seats with one needing a by-election at a later date. Not so good for democracy.

Then I got to looking at how many women were standing. Another disappointment when I only counted nine, one fewer than five years ago. Only half them actually got elected. So that’s nine women and 27 men standing. I’ll leave you to do the maths.

So, after five more years we now have fewer women running. I know some of our women councillors have been working to encourage women to stand for office but this doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact. We need to do more. Attitudes still need to change towards women.

Recently, I was the target on social media of some very hateful, vile and disgusting comments. Unfortunately, getting sexist comments is not new to me as every time I run for election or put my head above the parapet, I receive them. But enough is enough!

I would class myself as a strong, resilient person but this time it did stop me in my tracks a bit before I decided the best way to deal with it was to call these people out. I have had many supportive messages and thoughts which have given me the strength to keep putting my head out there to be shot at but please only attack my political views and not me personally.

From my own experiences I can understand why more women don’t stand for election. Let’s make Shetland a place where women can stand up without being attacked merely because they are women.

Debra Nicolson
Candidate for Shetland West