Fifty women at 50: Rachael Hamilton MSP
Rachael Hamilton is the Scottish Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire. She is a business owner and lives with her husband and three daughters.
“I wouldn’t exactly say I’m still in my prime, but I am fortunate to have been blessed with three daughters who keep me young at heart and grounded. Their upbringing is completely different to mine. I’m the eldest of three, we attended Sunday school and were only allowed to eat chocolate on a Sunday after church. My mother is a strong silent type who wore the trousers and pulled the purse strings. My father had to ask for pint money to go to the pub.
“I desperately tried to be rebellious. I voted for the Green Party when I was 18 then started a proper job and realised they weren’t coherent on tax policy. I went to a girl’s school and thought most of the girls were wet drips, even though my Catholic education was inspiring and empowering.
“The worst year of my teenage life was not being allowed to go a Madonna concert in 1987 because my parents thought London was dangerous. The best year was 1984, when my cool student teacher aunt took me to a hairdresser called Heroes in Stourbridge frequented by Duran Duran, whereupon I had a New Romantic haircut complete with a number two and a rat’s tail, which my father cut off with a carving knife whilst I made toast.
“I had two of my children in my twenties, because I thought that’s what you did. My mother was a grandmother aged 48. Twenty-two years later she had nine. I can’t imagine being a grandmother at the same age as my mother. I feel as though I have a lot of living to do.
“I’m a feminine feminist if there ever was one. I choose to ignore sexist comments rather than call them out. I feel sorry for men that think that sexism or sexual inuendo is appropriate. Men haven’t changed much, except for the sensible ones who know when to shut up or cut the crap.
“I believe inequalities still exist between men and women. I want to see the empowerment of females in society and gender pay equality and women’s rights practised across the world.
“A post-COVID economy will see bigger pressures than my memories of the financially challenging 80s. I’m concerned about the next female generation; unemployment will rise and getting on the housing ladder will be tricky. I was fortunate to land a well-paid first job aged 22 and bought my first house aged 24. Financial independence is precious to me.
“For me, 50 is just a number. Reaching a half century is irrelevant. What’s more important is that there’s still so much to do in so little time.”