THE influence of women on the modern Scottish independence movement can be seen from its  beginnings to the current political landscape.

On this International Women's Day, we have put together a (in no way exhaustive) list of women who made an impact on the Yes movement - and continue to do so.

Comment below or get in touch at to share the woman you believe should be recognised for her work in Scotland's journey to independence. 

Mary Fraser Dott

Winnie Ewing may have been the first woman elected under the SNP banner, but the first and only woman for 20 years to stand in a British parliamentary election for Scotland’s nationalist party was Mary Fraser Dott.

Fraser Dott was a founding member of the National Party of Scotland in 1928 - which merged into the Scottish National Party.

READ MORE: Roll of honour: Ten Scottish women who fought for the right to vote

She was a key organiser of the Scottish Literature Society, and held events at her house in Edinburgh. Readings included Hugh MacDiarmid. A revised policy document for SNP was signed by members at Fraser Dott's house and some of her ideas - along with her husbands - were enveloped into the final draft. As the party grew, Fraser Dott represented Scottish nationalists at the 1984 Hague Congress and ran in the 1947 by-election.

She was also a key figure of the campaign for Queen Elizabeth to be recognised as Queen Elizabeth "the first" in Scotland.

Muriel Gibson

Gibson was also an early member of the National Party of Scotland, later becoming a member of the SNP after the merger. 

Her commitment to the party dates from 1932, and at the start of World War Two, she like many SNP members, was detained by the police.  

A 2005 obituary for Gibson states: "As they put her in the van, her mother said to the officers: 'Now you bring that lassie back here in the state you found her, or there'll be trouble.'"

The National:

She joined the army and served in Africa, Germany and Italy before she rose to the position of Lieutenant-Colonel, the second-highest rank of any woman in the British Army.

Gibson later served as SNP national secretary, stood unsuccessfully for the party at the 1970 general election and was a leading member of the St Andrew Society.

Gibson died aged 93, on October 22, 2005.

Winnie Ewing

Perhaps the most famous woman in the Scottish independence movement, Madame Ecosse, passed away last year and the world saw international tributes from across political parties.

The SNP’s first female parliamentarian was considered by many to be the mother of the party, having won arguably the most important by-election in Scottish political history and changing the course of the nationalist cause forever.

Revered as one of the greatest political communicators, Ewing marked her shock victory with the declaration: “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on.”

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From that moment, she may not have stopped the world but she went on to become an almost unstoppable force in three parliaments, and within a party which became the dominant force in Scottish politics.

Ewing died at her home in Bridge of Weir on June 21, 2023, at age 93.

Margaret Ewing

Second Ewing on the list, Margaret Ewing was the first woman to lead a nationalist parliamentary group at Westminster - and she did so for 12 years.

Ewing was deputy leader of SNP until 1987 and leader of the SNP parliamentary group in the House of Commons from 1987 to 1999. She later served as an MSP until 2006.

Ewing stood in the leadership contest of SNP in 1990 - but lost out to former first minister Alex Salmond.

Ewing died from breast cancer, aged 60, on March 21, 2006.

Margo MacDonald

MacDonald served as an SNP MP for Govan from 1973 to 1974 before becoming depute leader of the party from 1974 to 1979.

Her dramatic by-election win in the Labour stronghold of Govan helped to re-enforce the trajectory of the SNP and the campaign for devolution that took place in the General Elections of 1974.

The National: Margo MacDonald

She continued to be a huge influence on the Scottish independence movement for more than 40 years and was never scared to take on controversial issues such as the legalisation of assisted dying.

The left-wing teacher and broadcaster later served in the Scottish Parliament as an SNP MSP, then as an independent before passing away in 2014.

Wendy Wood

Wood's real name was Gwendoline Emily Meacham and she was one of the founders of the National Party of Scotland.

But in 1932, and tiring of the lack of action by nationalists, Wood led a group of people attending the annual Bannockburn rally up to Stirling Castle, where they hauled down the Union Flag and raised the Saltire. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the local barracks were reprimanded for failing to stop her.

That publicity stunt led to her becoming a target for the British state’s intelligence corps.

The National: Wendy Wood, left

Later, in 1972 and in protest at Prime Minister Ted Heath’s failure to deliver a promised referendum she began to starve herself to death.

Unionist MPs were aghast at the thought of her becoming a martyr and several came to see her at her home in Edinburgh to plead with her to start eating again which she did having extracted a promise that Parliament would at least discuss the issue.

Still campaigning in her 80s, Wendy Wood died on June 30, 1981, at the age of 88.

Lesley Riddoch

Riddoch is currently touring Scotland with her latest film Denmark: The State of Happiness. 

The Scottish radio broadcaster, activist and journalist has already released films exploring the history and policy of Estonia, the Faroes, Iceland and Norway.

She also co-founded the think tank, Nordic Horizons, for Scotland to hear from Nordic experts across a range of social policy. She champions the sharing of what Scotland can learn from nearby countries with similar environments and cultures.

The National: Lesley Riddoch's tweet was tagged with a dubious 'fact check'

In 2013, Riddoch published Blossom: What Scotland Needs To Flourish and in 2017, she released McSmorgasbord: What post-Brexit Scotland can learn from the Nordics. 

Riddoch gives dozens of talks to Yes groups, organisations, and events throughout the year as well as promoting Scotland's movement in Europe through event organisation with campaign group Europe for Scotland.

She also organised and facilitated the movement's response to the Supreme Court judgment in 2022 with Time for Scotland rallies across the country.

Nicola Sturgeon

One of the most recognised women in Western politics who dominated the political landscape - and remains at the forefront - was Scotland’s longest-serving first minister and the first woman to hold the post.

At the age of 16, she joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and later SNP before rising to MSP in 1999. She went on to lead the SNP in the Scottish Parliament in Opposition from 2004 to 2007 before she served as health secretary in government.

In 2014, she took the helm of the party and brought it into a new phase of representing more of Scotland than ever before.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

Sturgeon’s key ambition of Scottish independence remains unrealised – but the SNP is now going into the General Election with the strategy of winning a majority of seats in Scotland to launch immediate negotiations.

Sturgeon remains an inspiration for thousands of women after her surprise resignation in February 2023. She described being first minister as “the privilege of my life”, adding: “Nothing, absolutely nothing, I do in future will ever come anywhere close.”

She remains in Holyrood as an MSP and is now writing a “deeply personal” memoir on her life as she rose from a working class Ayrshire family to the steps of Bute House. It is expected to be published in 2025.