On International Women’s Day last week (Tuesday 3rd March), Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart paid tribute to one of Glasgow’s greatest women, Mary Barbour, during a speech at the Scottish Parliament.
Ms McTaggart was speaking during her Scottish Labour colleague Jenny Marra’s Members Business Debate celebrating the life of Dundee missionary Mary Slessor who saved hundreds of lives and promoted women’s rights in Nigeria.
She paid tribute to the life of Mary Slessor and went onto highlight the accomplishments of Mary Barbour, an extraordinary Glaswegian woman who was known for her political activism throughout the early 20th century.
Speaking in the debate, Ms McTaggart said “Although she was from an average working-class background, the work that she accomplished throughout her life was anything but ordinary. Having had first-hand experience of the poverty and oppression that was rampant throughout Glasgow, Mary Barbour was considered a working-class hero throughout Glasgow.
“Mary organised and spoke at rallies, which culminated in November 1915 with the passing of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act 1915, which changed the housing system not just in Glasgow but throughout the rest of the country. It also brought Mary Barbour to the forefront of political activism. She made a name for herself once again when she became the first woman councillor for the city of Glasgow in 1920, standing against two male candidates.
“She pushed for a wide range of policies, from free school milk to pensions for mothers, which benefited the working class. We too should “Make it happen”, just as Mary Barber did nearly a century ago, and indeed as Mary Slessor did, by celebrating the many accomplishments of those women in order to encourage the young women of today to become active in fields across the spectrum.”