All-male council urges women to stand for election

Image source, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Image caption,

In the 2017 local government elections the comhairle only returned male councillors.

At a glance

  • In 2017, for the first time in its history, Western Isles Council returned only male councillors.

  • With local government elections taking place again next year, the local authority hopes to encourage more women to stand.

  • The council and organisation Elect Her are to hold an online workshop next month.

  • Women will be offered advice and support on how to stand for political office.

Published

A Scottish council which has no female councillors hopes to encourage more women to stand in next May's local government elections.

In the last elections in 2017, for the first time in its history, no women were elected to the Western Isles' Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Only seven women stood as candidates.

The comhairle and organisation Elect Her are to hold an online workshop on 18 January to offer advice and support on how to stand for political office.

Elect Her director Hannah Stevens said:  "When women have access to political leadership there are gains for the whole of society, not just women.

"It is fantastic that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is creating space for women to have conversations about what it means to stand for local council and what support is in place if you do so." 

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,

An online workshop is to be held to support women who want represent their island communities

Despite the current situation, the Western Isles do have a history of female political representation.

In the mid 1960s, Stornoway elected Ann Urquhart as its first female provost.

In her acceptance speech in Stornoway Town Hall, she said: "I hope that in taking this role I may blaze the trail for women in this burgh to come forward into public life."

Representation on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar reached its peak between 2007 and 2012, when there were five women councillors.

However, the 2017 elections only returned male councillors.

In 2019, the Parliament Project visited the Western Isles with the aim of inspiring more women to stand for election.

It held two workshops supported by the comhairle, and one of which was addressed by Mairi Bremner, who was a councillor for 25 years in the isles.