The Scottish Green Party have kicked off their 2021 Holyrood election campaign by calling for “courage” from candidates and activists.
During a joint speech from co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, Ms Slater declared the campaign for election in 2021 “starts right now”.
All six of the party’s current MSPs, with the exception of the retiring John Finnie, were re-selected as candidates.
The party announced the top two candidates who will stand for election in the eight regions across Scotland.
Ms Slater also called for the party to “do politics and power differently”.
She said: “I’ve been thinking about courage recently and how so much of what is going on around us is due to a lack of courage.
“It takes courage to stand up and say, ‘things are going to change’.
“Courage appears to be an outmoded value in many of our leaders and public figures.
“It takes courage to be honest, dishonesty is cowardly.
“We need to do our politics and power differently. We need to expect courage from our leaders.”
Ms Slater particularly pointed to the female candidates the Green Party announced, saying they would face a campaign in an already divided political climate.
She said: “I have asked the women of the Scottish Green Party to have courage.
“It takes a great deal of courage to stand for selection and election.
“It exposes you to abuse on social media, it requires you to speak in public, it opens you up to criticism about your appearance and the way you dress.
“Politics is still very much a rich, privately educated man’s world and to ask women to step into it, we’re asking them to overcome the overwhelming feeling that they don’t belong – the feeling that they are an impostor.
“I am delighted and glowing with pride to let you know that 29 women and non-binary people of the Scottish Green Party found their courage and put their name forward for selection.”
Ms Slater added: “Watch out for them, they will make waves. These courageous Scottish Green women will win seats at Holyrood, they’re brave and they’re wonderful.
“They will speak up for their communities, they will speak up for the planet. They will work with their every breath for peace, sustainability, equality and democracy.
“This is what democracy looks like. This is what change looks like. This is what courage looks like.”
After her speech, Ms Slater said: “It does take courage to be honest. Dishonesty is easy.
“I was asking these women to put themselves forward.
“It’s a terrifying thing and yet these women and non-binary people have done that.”
Ms Slater said the “number one concern” of women looking to stand is to do with abuse on social media, something the party is hoping to prepare candidates for.
The Canadian-born engineer said: “It’s frightening. It really affects your outlook and drains your energy.
“I’m not saying that men candidates don’t get abuse, but it isn’t anything like the kind of rape threats, death threats, that women get.
“It’s something that I don’t think society is doing a very good job at preventing, so instead we’re supporting and training our members with how to deal with that.”
The party has already set up a year-long training programme for their female candidates in how to deal with being a woman in politics, focusing heavily on social media.