Scot Govt criticised for avoiding term ‘women’ in smear test campaign

The Scottish Government has been criticised for attempting to avoid the word “women” in a campaign to encourage smear testing.

In a press release promoting the campaign, the Scottish Government urged “anyone with a cervix” to attend a test, saying “two people” die from cervical cancer in the UK each day. The term “women” was used only once.

Policy analysis group MurrayBlackburnMackenzie said that “plain language is vital in public health campaigns” and warned ministers to “consider the potential impact of its decision not to refer consistently to women in publicity materials”.

‘Deeply concerning’

The group cited a 2017 survey of women which found that almost half of respondents could not identify the cervix as the neck of the womb.

Meghan Gallacher MSP added: “It would be deeply concerning if the SNP’s reluctance to refer to women meant that fewer women came forward.”

A Scottish Government spokesman stated that the campaign was developed “to help all those eligible for a smear test” and that they are “confident” that it will “encourage women to attend for screening”.

Institutional capture

It was recently revealed that the Scottish Government ditched the word “mother” from its maternity leave policies after being advised to do so by Stonewall.

Information obtained by the BBC’s Nolan Investigates programme confirmed that the Scottish Government now uses only “gender neutral equivalents”, as recommended in the lobby group’s inclusive policy toolkit.

The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director Ciarán Kelly said that Stonewall’s “capture of public institutions” should concern everyone.

“Here is an unaccountable lobby group pushing a radical gender ideology that is dictating government policy. It’s high time our public servants shunned its misleading advice and bowed out of its self-serving schemes”.


Last month, House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle hit out at trans activists for threatening Rosie Duffield MP after she stated that “only women have a cervix”. The Labour MP did not attend her Party Conference due to the abuse she received.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer later faced criticism for claiming on The Andrew Marr Show that it is “not right” to say that “only women have a cervix”.

He was supported by his front bench colleague Emily Thornberry but Health Secretary Sajid Javid called his comments a “total denial of scientific fact”.

Also see:

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