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The political representation of women in Scotland : devolution and the Scottish Parliament, 1979-2009





In 1979, Margaret Thatcher became the United Kingdom’s first female Prime Minister and 2009 was thus the 30th anniversary of that historical landmark. Those three decades are sometimes considered as having been largely influenced by her policy, even during the Labour rule (1997-2010) which followed her Premiership (1979-1990, followed by John Major’s). The same period became the scene of much debate on the constitutional question, as 1979 was the year of the failed referendum on devolution. However, it did not prevent those who believed in Scotland’s autonomy from further considering their options. At the same time, the Women’s Movement fought for gender equality, in the political area as well as other domains. Both causes collided in the call for better representation, which culminated in the 1990s. The research led on those particular times of change questions the links between both movements (the one in favour of autonomy and the one for gender equality) and whether they were able to work together towards a better representation of women in Scotland. The first ten years of the Scottish Parliament (1999-2009) are looked at through the scope of that notion of female representation: was a better one achieved? And if so, has it had a major impact on the way matters are handled in the newly established Scottish Parliament?

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