“WHAT’S the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since day one, she’s already had everything she needs within herself. It’s the world that convinced her she did not,” said Canadian poet Rupi Kaur.

If ever a quote accurately described women in politics – or indeed in any sphere – it is this.

Since I was first elected, I have been fascinated by the perception of women’s strength, diplomacy and advocacy in the world of politics. Often, my quieter, more discursive and kinder approach is perceived to be weakness, rather than strength. And yet it is part of the toolbox I bring to politics as a woman.

As a new MSP, I found myself assuming that to be strong, persuasive or successful meant adopting very masculine ways of acting. Being combative, aggressive, getting the upper hand in an argument – they are not necessarily masculine or feminine traits, but they certainly don’t characterise how I behave.

The National: The Holyrood elections of 2021 saw a record number of women elected to the Scottish Parliament

Perhaps its not surprising that considering women are still a minority in frontline politics, more masculine approaches have characterised the way that we do politics. Worse than that, they are often considered to be the way to win and be successful.

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How often have we assumed a louder, more aggressive, more confident voice will win a debate – despite it covering up a total lack of truth or evidence? You see that in political debates so often.

Until, that is, women demonstrated that their approach to politics was often times more impactful. Jacinda Ardern (below) and other senior women have done much to change such perceptions.

The National: Jacinda Ardern

The former prime minister of New Zealand emphasised that her approach to politics – empathetic, authentic, decisive – was different but just as powerful. And it was authentically her, as a strong, female leader. She was a leader that captured attention in the most gentle of voices, and inspired a generation to realise that they were powerful.

Women and girls need to know that they have everything within them to change the world, in any sphere. In politics, they can be authentically and comfortably themselves, and successful. If they wish to speak in a more gentle voice, they can still dominate and win a political argument because of the truth, evidence and persuasiveness of their position.

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That is what women in politics must remember: we don’t have to change, we actually need to be more authentically ourselves than ever before.

Perhaps if we had more women in politics, we’d start to see fundamental shifts in the quality of the debate and the decision.

Across Scotland, there are women and girls tempted by the notion of standing for election but apprehensive about the abuse on social media and in reality. Women in politics stand together, to demonstrate a different type of politics. I hope that inspires others to ignore the vitriol, anger and sexist abuse and recognise that we are poorer when girls and women are excluded. So take heart – you have everything you need within you, stand tall, be comfortably yourself, and change the world.