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First women of colour are elected to serve as MSPs

© Shutterstock FeedKaukab Stewart
Kaukab Stewart

Kaukab Stewart spoke of her pride at becoming the first of two women of colour and the first Muslim woman to win a seat in the Scottish parliament yesterday and said it had taken far too long.

“It is without doubt an honour to be elected as the first woman of colour to the Scottish parliament,” said Stewart, 53, in her acceptance speech just hours before Pam Gosal became the second BAME woman to secure a seat via the regional vote. “It has taken too long,” added Stewart. “But to all the women and girls of colour out there, the Scottish parliament belongs to you too so, whilst I may be the first, I will not be the last.”

Stewart held the Glasgow Kelvin seat for the SNP with 14,535 votes, succeeding Sandra White. Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie finished second with 9,077 votes.

The former teacher, who stood in the first Holyrood election in 1999 and lost to Alistair Darling at the 2010 Westminster election, said she never gave up her political ambitions as Nicola Sturgeon welcomed her election as a “special and important moment”.

Stewart said: “The irony is I stood in the first Scottish parliament elections in 1999. I think oh my lordy, in one sense this is great and it’s historic but on the other sense should it really have taken 22 years for a woman of colour to have had a reasonable chance of actually being successful? I’m now concerned for the generation coming up behind me because I don’t want a whole lot of BAME young women who don’t see themselves at the Scottish parliament. Somebody needs to open that door and if I get the privilege of being able to open that door then I’m going to make sure it is kept wide open.”

Within hours the Tory’s Gosal became the second woman of colour to be elected to the Scottish parliament via the Glasgow list.

Stewart added there had been a wider failure by all parties for it having taken so long for a BAME woman to win election.

She added: “Currently all political parties have failed in having a woman of colour elected to the Scottish parliament. However I’m proud of the fact the SNP has put structures in place to put more BAME and disabled candidates in as good a position as possible to win.”

Stewart admitted the wait was a nervous one: “It’s the weight of expectation. I was just thinking I hope it all works out.”