Girlguiding Scotland calls on the media to end sexist coverage putting girls off politics  

Girlguiding Scotland is calling for action following concerns sexist coverage of female politicians is leaving girls feeling side-lined from the political conversation.three girls speaking to each other outside

To ensure young women feel engaged in the political conversation and have their voices hear by 8 June, Girlguiding’s national youth panel has set out a three point charter calling on the media to:

  1. Stop talking about politicians’ appearances and focus on their ‘opinions not pins’
  2. Include young women in debates and ensure their views are represented in political coverage
  3. Recognise the diversity of young women’s voices including those who are too young to vote now but will still be affected by the decisions of the next government

The calls have received backing from First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon; Leader of the Conservative Party, Ruth Davidson, and Labour’s Inequalities Spokesperson Monica Lennon. You can read what they had to say here.

Hannah, 20, a member of The Senior Section, from Glasgow said: “Now should be a really exciting time for girls to get involved in politics and make their voices heard but sexist coverage for female leaders and politicians is leaving us feeling side-lined from the conversation.

As a politics student the kind of everyday sexism towards female leaders definitely gives me second thoughts about pursuing a career in politics if my looks are going to be considered the most important thing about me.”

Katie Horsburgh, 16, from Edinburgh, added: “There are so many issues affecting girls and young women lives, so it’s important we make our voices heard. But every time the media choose to focus on what a women looks like or what she’s wearing – instead of her policies and ideas – it sends girls a message that politics isn’t a space where we can have our voices heard and the issues we care about taken seriously.”

New Girlguiding research 

New research by Girlguiding reveals 41% of girls (aged 9 to 16) think there has been a rise in media sexism in the last six months with over a third of these girls saying it has knocked their confidence, whilst nearly two thirds said sexist coverage negatively effects young people’s views of girls and young women

However, at a time when they should be feeling more engaged in politics than ever, girls are telling us the outdated and sexist treatment of female politicians in the press is making them feel excluded.

What are we doing about it?

Girlguiding Scotland has started a campaign to inform members about the reserved issues the UK Parliament passes laws on as well as encouraging young members to vote. The charity also supports Women 5050’s campaign for at least 50% representation of women in our Parliament and chair Talat Yaqoob said “It’s deeply concerning to hear girls say media sexism is denting their confidence and making them feel like politics is off-limits.

With women still making up just 35 per cent of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament and 29 per cent of MPs at Westminster we need real action to hold sexism in media to account and ensure the opinions of women politicians make the news, not their wardrobes or bodies.”

Looking for more information?

You can read about the cross party support our call has had from Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson and Monica Lennon here

You can read Girlguiding Scotland’s response to recent sexist coverage here

You can read our full press release here