What a shock today to Google the name of Ailsa McKay and to find she had died in the last 24 hours. I wanted to get in touch about an interview with her and didn’t realise she was so poorly. Such a grounded and committed woman to lose at any time but with Scotland in political turmoil her presence was like a rock. My condolences go to her family.
I always loved her description as a feminist economist and her no-nonsense sentiments on life and economics, how she worked her way through the ranks to become Professor of Economics and a UN adviser and was guided by who she was…a strong Scottish working class woman. She wrote about the role of women in the referendum and why they might be less inclined to vote Yes. Here is a quote:
The position of women in the Scottish economy has left them extremely vulnerable to the impact of economic recession. Both as workers in the public sector and as users of public services women have been hardest hit by the level and range of public sector spending cuts imposed as a result of a favoured austerity agenda.
Women’s unemployment in Scotland has almost doubled over the period from 2007 to 2012. Over the same period a rise in the number of part time jobs against a fall in full time jobs amongst women indicates that women may be ‘underemployed’ in a stagnating economy. In addition, reform to the welfare system has resulted in wide ranging reductions in benefits, an increase in pension contributions and an increase in the age at which pensions can be drawn. This comes on top of a two-year wage freeze for the majority of workers in the public sector in Scotland. So the terms and conditions of public sector workers, the majority of whom are women in Scotland, are deteriorating. Furthermore, as the public sector continues to contract, a consequence of increasing austerity measures, more women will lose their jobs and at the same time will find their eligibility and access to social security payments significantly restricted. The full article is here http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ailsa-mckay/debate-over-scotland’s-future-do-women-care.
She will always be a reminder of what we are as a nation – tough, inspired and uncompromising, overlaid with wit. Her presence in the campaign and contribution to Radical Independence has provided a beacon for all. We should all be grateful for her.