A candidate for an upcoming by-election has opened up about the challenges and racism she faces in frontline politics.
Anum Qaisar-Javed is a modern studies teacher in Lanarkshire but is hoping to represent the SNP in Westminster for the Airdrie and Shotts seat after the May 13 by-election.
Anum was previously a caseworker for an SNP MSP and a parliamentary researcher to an SNP MP, and has been involved in politics since the 2014 referendum.
She also stood as candidate for the SNP in the Murdouston ward in the 2017 North Lanarkshire Council elections.
But it hasn’t been an easy move into the world of politics, with the 28-year-old telling Lanarkshire Live about daily online abuse that shockingly relates to her race and skin tone.
Abusive replies to her Tweets show people saying they wouldn’t vote for the SNP as they would allow “more mass migration from Pakistan and Africa”
Anum told us: “I’ve experienced racial abuse on social media.
“People on Twitter, for example, can remain anonymous and that can allow ‘keyboard warriors’ to say whatever they wish – like telling me “to go back home” which doesn’t make sense as I was born and brought up in Scotland.
“The reality is that I’ve been out across Airdrie and Shotts leafleting and there’s been no racial abuse at all. I was in Plains the other day, and a lady was saying to me that she’s really excited to see better representation in her elected representatives.
“I look forward to being a role model to young people across Airdrie and Shotts – especially as a high school teacher.”
Anum has also found challenges in being a young woman in politics – and the stats prove that it isn’t just her facing this battle.
She explained: “Statistics show that there are structural barriers in place stopping women from entering politics.
“From the sexism faced on social media, through to childcare responsibilities.
“These women could be the best person for the job, but there are barriers in place that stop them from reaching that.
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“In order to have a fully representative Parliaments in Westminster and Holyrood, it’s important we have more women taking on roles of responsibility.
“Actually, this is the same for any sector – whether that’s politics, education or business.”
Anum says that some of the Tweets she has received have been horrible, with it not uncommon to receive several a day.
Some may feel this can show Scotland in a bad light, but Anum doesn’t feel this way. She sees the country as a home to anybody.
She added: “Scotland is a very tolerant country and with the civic nationalism of the SNP, there’s a welcoming atmosphere.
“Civic nationalism means that it doesn’t matter where you come from, but if you want to make Scotland your home, then it is.
“I think that sends a really powerful message (to those who incite abuse) that most people are very welcoming.”
Anum will stand for the SNP in the Airdrie and Shotts by-election on Thursday, May 13.