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‘Historic’: Record number of women elected to Holyrood and first female BAME MSP

Nicola Sturgeon poses with Kaukab Stewart after Stewart was elected as the MSP for Glasgow Kelvin constituency.
Nicola Sturgeon poses with Kaukab Stewart after Stewart was elected as the MSP for Glasgow Kelvin constituency.

The number of women elected to Holyrood has reached a record high of 45% in what has been a historic election on many fronts.

A total of 58 female MSPs will make their way to the Scottish Parliament and the country has also elected its first woman of colour, the SNP’s Glasgow Kelvin MSP Kaukab Stewart.

The previous record in terms of female representation at parliament was in 2003 when 40% of the individuals elected were women and is one step closer to gender parity.

Six BAME MSPs have been elected, along with the country’s first permanent wheelchair user Scottish Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy and the party’s first ever male LGBT member Paul O’Kane.

Ms Stewart is joined by five other BAME MSPs in parliament, including Scottish Conservative MSPs, Sandesh Gulhane and Pam Gosal, who is the country’s first ever Indian Sikh MSP.

Foysol Choudhury was elected in the Lothian region for Scottish Labour.

The party’s leader Anas Sarwar was re-elected in Glasgow, and Humza Yousaf kept his seat in Glasgow Pollok.

‘Special and important moment’

Following her historic victory, Ms Stewart said: “It has taken too long but to all the women and girls of colour out there, the Scottish Parliament belongs to you too, so while I may be the first, I will not be the last.”

Prior to the 2021 election, Holyrood had only ever had a total of four BAME members since the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 – all of them men from Scots-Pakistani heritage.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said while it has “taken far too long”, Ms Stewart’s election marked a “special and important moment”.

She also paid tribute to Ms Duncan-Glancy, whose election as the first permanent wheelchair user makes the parliament “much more representative of the country we serve”.

Elected on the Glasgow regional list, her win was hailed by politicians as another history-making moment for the Scottish Parliament.

 

The newly-elected MSP had faced difficulty during the election count, with it taking 45 minutes to enter her own election count because the Glasgow venue was not accessible.

Ms Gosal, who is the country’s first Indian Sikh in the Scottish Parliament, said her election had “certainly made history”.

Women 50:50, a group campaigning for more gender parity in parliament, welcomed the new record but said any increase is “largely due to the SNP, Labour and Greens taking specific measures to ensure women’s representation”.

The party breakdown reveals 63% of the Scottish Green MSPs are women, 53% of SNP MSPs, 45% of Labour, 25% of Liberal Democrat and 26% of Scottish Conservatives.

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