BEING a woman – particularly a young woman in politics – is not easy. That may sound obvious to many, but I think that only epitomises the problem. While we’ve found it easier to talk about the issues we face we seem to have become numb to them with few, if any, being actively helped by anyone who is not directly experiencing it.

We now accept it as part of political life that being a young woman in politics is hard. And yes, the hours are hard, the issues we deal with are often hard and complex, juggling Parliament and home life is hard but often the thing that makes it worse is how we are treated and being unable to see a way of making it better.

There are of course the usual issues of having your age thrown at you as if it’s something to be ashamed of, colleagues expressing disappointment in you like you are a small child, being accused of not understanding things or not being somehow capable of engaging in a particular issue to name just a few.

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I also have a hearing impairment, and when I raised the issue of noise in the Chamber, I was accused of trying to turn Parliament into a church (there is an awful lot we have to do for disabled politicians too). I’m also by no means the youngest of this session’s cohort, so I’m sure the behaviours and issues I have described are only amplified for those younger and must put be putting people off standing altogether.

These are also just the behaviours from people who should know better. Some of these have gleefully defended their own party colleague while simultaneously being vile to another MSP in exactly the way they’re defending – and usually in the fairly recent past.

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I think many of us are concerned about raising the behaviour of these colleagues for fear of reaction, so we end up speaking about it and how we have to do better in general terms which never solve the problem – and I do speak from personal experience.

I’m by no means one of the quiet ones in Parliament but there are some colleagues I would be concerned about approaching to explain to them why their behaviour upset me. Others I have confronted, to very little effect.

I’m sure there isn’t a party that’s immune to poor behaviour from time to time but committing to holding our own colleagues to account will help to make the experience better for all of us. There is then of course how the outside world treats women in politics. The comments I get on my age and appearance I am now largely used to That is in itself scary. We’ve come to a point where women in Scottish politics are largely numb to the abuse that we have to face just in the course of doing our job.

Some of the scariest comments I have had to deal with have been in relation to my members’ bill on buffer zones. People feel weirdly entitled to ask you very personal questions about your home life, whether you have kids etc. It’s baffling to me why anyone feels it’s okay to ask a complete stranger that.

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I’ve been sworn at, called a whore, a bitch and a whole load of other things by members of the public that I never thought I would have to deal with, we’ve reported threats to the police, I have a panic button as many others do in case of issues. Unfortunately, this level of prying and commentary on our personal lives is what being a woman in politics has come to mean.

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We are all here because we want to make things better, serve our communities and do a good job. There has been commentary from a particular journalist about politicians being “not human”. Those comments made me so angry because it gets to the point of why we are treated the way we are – people believing that it is acceptable to abuse politicians because we are somehow not human.

Every single politician has family and friends who love us – just as many reading this do. By all means criticise my ideas, my thoughts on policy; I’m happy to have a different opinion to someone and be challenged on mine. It’s a fascinating part of my job to hear why and how people have come to those ideas. What we shouldn’t tolerate is the abuse and intimidation we see, especially to women.

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I’m also finding it interesting exploring how the barriers we face in politics as young women change over time.

I’ve spent the first three years trying to establish myself in Parliament; finding the things that I want to campaign on and adjusting my rhythm and routine to life as a parliamentarian. For some, their lives have changed again with becoming parents for the first time and again changing their balance in this place in the public eye.

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I was dismayed at some of the comments to Mairi McAllan’s news about her pregnancy in February. I found Mairi’s words about balancing high office and having a family to be really thought-provoking and I thank her for passing on her knowledge. I got married in October and I’m sure at some point my husband and I will want to start a family of our own and had never really thought about the impact on how I do things now. There are very few young mums in Parliament and those who have navigated this path before us will inevitably be asked to pass their knowledge on.

The few of us who were elected this session in our 20s and early 30s will be facing the same challenges at the start and the end of the session. Our lives move on, politics moves on and there is always another issue to deal with or something at home to sort.

We need to be better. In Parliament we need to treat each other better and follow through with doing it. We need to support each other when someone is facing abuse, whether we agree with them or not. We need to keep talking about what it is like to be a young woman in politics because it is hard but it’s also hugely rewarding. I have a phenomenal team who give everything to support me and constituents. We are having a tangible impact on policy and legislation and most days, we do manage to have some fun. It’s not all awful but with some more care and thought, it could be so much better.