You may not know Nicola Sturgeon. She’s an extremely accomplished human being. Currently the First Minister of Scotland, she took the leadership position when Alex Salmond resigned after the defeat of the “Yes” campaign referendum, which fought for Scottish independence.
Sturgeon joins the legion of women throughout the world who’ve had to clean up political messes their predecessors (coincidentally, men) have made. It’s an esteemed and rather small club which includes Theresa May and Julia Gillard.
Despite her successes, Sturgeon was compelled to reveal in last weekend’s Sunday Times that she had a miscarriage at age 40.
Interviewed by Mandy Rhodes for a book on Scottish National Party Leaders, Sturgeon — who is described by the author as “intensely private” — said she suffered a miscarriage in 2011 on the anniversary of the 1971 Ibrox football disaster, where 66 people were killed in an inexplicable stampede.
It was a day when Sturgeon should have been resting at home; instead she stoically attended the event to commemorate the anniversary, grimacing in pain. It was her public duty.
Rhodes asked her if she would’ve accomplished all she did if she hadn’t had a miscarriage. Sturgeon’s reply was refreshingly honest:
“If the miscarriage hadn’t happened, would I be sitting here as first minister right now? It’s an unanswerable question. I just don’t know… I’ve thought about it, but I don’t know the answer. I’d like to think yes, because I could have shown that having a child wasn’t a barrier to all of this, but in truth I don’t know. Having a baby might have so fundamentally changed our lives that things would have taken a different path, but if somebody gave me the choice now to turn back the clock 20 years and say you can choose to start to think about this much earlier and have children, I’d take that. But if the price of that was not doing what I’ve gone on to do, I wouldn’t accept that, no.”
The response to Sturgeon’s ‘reveal’ was overwhelmingly supportive. She was applauded for what Quartz writer Cassie Weber called starting “a conversation that’s rarely had by women in public forums.” Namely, the topic of children (or lack thereof).
In a Twitter post, Sturgeon outlined why she decided to come out in such a public fashion about her “childless” situation.
“By allowing my own experience to be reported I hope, perhaps ironically, that I might contribute in a small way to a future climate in which these matters are respected as entirely persona l— rather than pored over and speculated about as they are now,” Sturgeon writes.
Here in Australia, Julia Gillard would know about that speculation all too well. Our first female Prime Minister was mercilessly questioned about her “choice” to remain child-free, (and marriage-free to boot.) The very idea of a childless politician is something to fear. Unless they fit into that image of my spinster aunt, who keeps to herself and owns lots of cats, the idea of a lone woman in a powerful position is frankly, terrifying to many.