SOME women, along with working-class men returning from the war, were given the right to vote 100 years ago. These women, being recognised and celebrated for their efforts, fought hard and won. This eventually led to all women gaining that same right some ten years later.

Since then there are have been many positive changes for women (most of which we have had to fight and shout for!) and women continue to be active in seeking change and equality, but sadly there is much yet to achieve. Women and families are still living in poverty because of low pay and zero-hours contracts, there is still a gender pay gap for some, welfare reforms are hitting the poorest and most vulnerable in our society and older women are organising for state pension justice.

I was therefore delighted to note that Secretary of State for Scotland and MP for Dumfries, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, David Mundell, has called on “everyone in the country to redouble their efforts to ensure there is gender equality throughout the next century.”

This comes from an MP whose government has introduced welfare reform measures which have added to inequality. There is an increase in the gender pay gap for the first time in five years. 64 per cent of low-paid workers in Scotland are women and 40 per cent of these women are working part-time. We all know that this kind of poverty pay (for women and men) has a knock-on effect on child poverty. A couple of weeks ago we were informed that in the Scottish Borders there is a rise in the number of children living in poverty. The most recent statistic for the Borders is that one in four of our children live with “material deprivation.”

If Mr Mundell is sincere in his desire to support and practically advance gender equality then he too must redouble his efforts by challenging the Westminster government about the issues of poverty created by welfare reform, by fighting for a living wage for all workers, especially women, by ensuring women born in the 1950s do not lose out with their state pension, by supporting those women who are working to lift their families out of poverty. These are some of the issues I am sure the Suffragettes and Suffragists would be involved in. Women activists today, like their sisters 100 years ago, will hold to account all those in power who are voted in to represent us.

Joan Rowley

I REFER to Lorna Campbell’s letter (February 12) and would agree that at a time when the UK has negotiated a deal with the EU which is demonstrably disadvantageous to a majority of Scots, they should be offered the possibility of at least four futures. The first choice would be in an independence referendum, which if positive would allow them the choice of (at least) three further options. This is where I slightly disagree with Lorna, the choices being a) to remain within or apply to rejoin the EU, b) apply to join EFTA or c) to accept the same deal as rUK has negotiated but from within an independent Scotland.

But if these options are chosen, they must be accompanied by a pre-referendum statement from the Scottish Government along the lines of the following: “We guarantee to offer you these further choices within x weeks of the referendum and the pros and cons of each option, together with timescales, will be laid out in as simple terms as possible by experts who are as unbiased as possible.” Political parties and others would then lay out their respective positions in the lead-up to this second referendum.

RW Millar

WHAT we need is backbone! Too damn right. Lorna Campbell’s excellent contribution reflects my own fears and hope precisely. I am convinced we must act NOW, we really need to get our campaign machinery rolling, our own Scottish Government have dachled for far too long, too much havering! This is OUR FUTURE, OUR COUNTRY, OUR FIGHT! We have seen recently how the economy of the UK suffered as a result of the closure of the Forties pipeline, the very pipeline carrying Scottish oil straight to the London exchequer to bail out and finance the whims of the privileged and wasteful. What chance do our underprivileged/underpaid/underrepresented people here in Scotland have in this most unequal of unions?

We, the people of Scotland, have paid for the privilege of being robbed for centuries (one only has tae hae a quick shifty at the bloated south of England and compare it with any other part of this “most precious, precious Union”). The UK is going out of business and its time we took our stuff and left for a better life along with our celtic cousins. As someone else said: “we do have control, we just don’t realise it”. Oh yes, let’s build that bridge to Ireland!

Jim Thomson