LAST Thursday marked the final Full Council of the current council term and the last motion to be heard at that meeting focused on women in local government; the barriers which many face to even consider standing and the additional challenges which they are presented with when they eventually are elected including horrific levels of abuse.

We already know that women are severely under-represented when it comes to our town halls and city chambers, with just 29% of councillors being women despite us making up 52% of the population.

It was moving to hear women from across the chamber reflect on their time as councillors, but I was sad that for a number it was their final contribution and for many, standing down after just one term.

There are 26 current councillors who won’t be seeking re-election, including 11 women. Of them, only nine have completed one full term.

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The brutally honest testimony was harrowing, not meant to put other women off standing but to let those watching have an insight into the things you don’t always see, often happening behind the scenes and even for those of us who didn’t contribute to the debate directly, we could sympathise and think of our own experiences where at times we didn’t feel safe, where the abuse either delivered from a keyboard or face to face took a toll and when we had those thoughts of asking ourselves if frontline politics was even for us.

For once in the chamber, we weren’t split along political party lines but instead united in a shared experience but also in a want and need to do something about it.

I have always been fairly open about what it’s like being a young woman in elected politics. I’ve spoken before about the good, the bad and the ugly sides of it – the times where I’ve told myself that it’s nothing but imposter syndrome creeping up on me and the others, where I have been a few phone calls (and some tears) from walking away from it all.

We are told all the time you need a tough skin to be in politics, I get that and there’s no denying whether we like it or not, you do but nothing could have prepared me for being shouted at in the middle of a public community centre that I was an “F***ing waste of space” by a fellow councillor because I dared to challenge a decision they made or the time I had to contact the police because another sitting councillor sent me threatening direct mails on twitter or continuous “daft wee lassie” chat from the same people who preach about why not enough young women come forward as candidates.

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And I know my experience is not unique, speak to any woman councillor and they will have their own story but what gets me is that, they may try to put us down but we do keep fighting, we speak out and we try to make things better for those who will be in that next generation.

I’m proud to be standing again to represent the communities and the city I love, I’m also proud of all the women who have decided to put their name on the ballot this year but we must learn from those who have decided to stand down.

It’s on all of us to do better.