“WHEN women lift, girls rise,” were apt words chosen by Nicola Sturgeon during her last speech as First Minister in the Scottish Parliament.

The legacy of the SNP MSP's influence on getting more women into politics cannot be understated, reflected succinctly in the speech given by youngest MSP Emma Roddick during the FM’s send-off on Thursday.

It came during a week of events wrapping up Sturgeon’s legacy, which began with an interview on Loose Women and ended with opening an NHS treatment centre, harking back to her previous life as health secretary.

In the chamber, 25-year-old Roddick paid tribute to Sturgeon’s guidance and mentoring of young women, including herself, and reminisced about the first time they had met, shortly after Sturgeon was appointed FM at an event in Eden Court in Inverness.

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“I got to sit in the front row and ask the First Minister what she was going to do to make sure that more women and girls would enter politics in the future,” Roddick said, adding at the time she was 17-years-old.

“It is a question that has been thoroughly answered since, but I remember her specific reply to me.

“She said, ‘Well, Emma, I would like to see more young women, Emma, making their voice heard, Emma.’”

Roddick said those words led her to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament, adding that she was not the only woman in the room who Sturgeon had influenced.

The National: Roddick credited the FM for mentoring her into politicsRoddick credited the FM for mentoring her into politics (Image: PA)

“I think that the First Minister has very safely achieved the goal that she set out in her statement: she has lifted, and girls across Scotland are rising to meet her,” Roddick added.

“As one of those girls, I am confident that she will continue to inspire, no matter what she does next.”

SNP MSP Fiona Hyslop, who has served under Sturgeon as a Cabinet Secretary before moving to the backbenches in 2021, said she remembered an event in George Square in 1992, shortly after the Conservatives had won the General Election.

Hyslop had been asked to speak but suggested a “young, talented” 16-year-old Sturgeon should take her slot instead.

And Sturgeon wasn’t the first woman to take a starring role in the SNP, as Hyslop pointed out she “followed a series of strong women in the SNP” including Winnie Ewing and Margaret McDonald.

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“We were probably quite unusual compared to other parties,” Hyslop said, adding that Roseanna Cunningham, who also ran for the SNP leadership in the past, was also a defining influence on Sturgeon, which she had evidently passed on to younger generations.

Coming full circle, Sturgeon’s last week saw her focus on women’s issues, with an appearance on Loose Women on Monday morning.

While some quarters accused the FM of a “snub” to the Scottish Affairs Committee, it could be argued that the ITV show, focusing on women’s issues, was a bigger platform. Sturgeon opened up about her miscarriage and how she was beginning to relax into retirement.

The National: Hyslop said Sturgeon had carried on the mantle of 'strong women in the SNP'Hyslop said Sturgeon had carried on the mantle of 'strong women in the SNP'

During a segment asking if women should ditch wearing a bra on a Monday, this started to shine through.

Sturgeon was met with cheering and whooping after she replied: "I'm standing down as First Minister so who says it just has to be a Monday?"

On Tuesday, she held her final Cabinet meeting, and on Wednesday made an emotional formal apology to mothers who were forced to give up their babies for adoption due to being unmarried. The historic wrong, which impacted an estimated 250,000 families in Scotland, was described by the FM as a “living nightmare”.

On Thursday, she battled against Douglas Ross and Anas Sarwar at FMQs, before giving her final speech to Holyrood in the afternoon.

During her speech, Sturgeon said she would continue to champion others entering into politics from the backbenches.

Reflecting on her achievements in advancing gender equality, and maintaining gender-balanced Cabinets during her administration, she added: “Less tangible, perhaps, but just as important, is that no girl in our country now has any doubt that a woman can hold the highest office in the land.”