SCVO briefing ahead of Scottish Government Debate: International Women’s Day

8th March 2018

Summary

As just last week, more statistics highlight more issues we’re yet to address in terms of gender equality[1], we look to International Women’s Day as a reminder of how far we still have to go to reach gender equality here in Scotland.

That said, we take this opportunity to celebrate the fantastic work the third sector undertakes in this area.

Operating across a wide range of fields and with a variety of communities, our sector supports self-identifying women in an inordinate number of ways. From helping women escape and move on from violence through the fantastic work of women’s aid centres, rape crisis centres, and others; to supporting women with a variety of services – from skills-building, to crèches, to health services; to fighting and campaigning against patriarchal norms, third sector organisations work tirelessly to improve women’s lives.

We highlight just a few of those excellent organisations here.

A small selection of fantastic third sector organisations supporting gender equality across Scotland

Amina helps Muslim women to ensure that they are able to fully participate in society without fear of discrimination or inequality. Amina offers a range of tailored support services including a national ‘listening ear’ helpline, employability guidance, and befriending. Through the cumulative and vast experience of staff and volunteers, Amina also creatively raises awareness of key issues through our engaging campaigns.

Glasgow Women’s Library is the only resource of its kind in Scotland. But as well as a library, GWL also supports thousands of women across Scotland every year to improve their lives through services and programmes, including support and activities that tackle a wide range of issues from poverty and women’s health, sexuality and surviving violence. Empowering women is one of their key aims.

Dundee International Women’s Centre seeks to engage, educate and empower women from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They provide educational, recreational and social activities, as well as employment training, information and advice services for disadvantaged and/or excluded women. In addition, DWIC’s social enterprise, Rise and Shine Childcare, has provided thousands of employment opportunities to women.

Sikh Sanjog empowers marginalised women, giving them the help they need to boost their confidence and skills so they can realise their full potential. Whether those women need support to integrate fully into Scottish society, advice on education and career possibilities, or require one-to-one counselling services, Sikh Sanjog strives to make sure that those women gain increased confidence, skills and a continuing support network.

The Women’s Centre, Glasgow has, for over 20 years, provided a safe space for women in Glasgow. It aims to empower women by offering them opportunities to strengthen their choices in a challenging climate, leading to them changing their lives. The centre encourages and supports women to develop confidence, combat social isolation, learn new skills, raise their aspirations and achieve their potential.

Saheliya is a specialist mental health and well-being support organisation for black, minority ethnic, asylum seeker, refugee and migrant women and girls in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area. Its staff are from a variety of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds and all have an understanding of how race, gender and culture affects the mental well-being of black and minority ethnic women and girls.

Crossroads Youth and Community Association in Govanhill aims to facilitate integration and help strengthen community cohesion and resilience. Its current focus is to work with women and their families to gain an in-depth understanding of the concerns, interests and barriers faced by a representative range of women living in the area. Challenges are identified and addressed through working alongside local women.

YWCA Scotland – The Young Women’s Movement is a world movement of women leading change. Their vision is a world where every woman can shape her own life journey and fulfil her potential. The YWCA help to bring this about by creating empowering spaces for girls and young women to meet together. They are part of a worldwide movement that upholds human rights and challenges gender inequality.

Conclusion

Of course, the examples above are just a very small selection of third sector organisations across Scotland who work tirelessly to address gender inequalities. SCVO, too, as well as many other third sector organisations who don’t have gender as their primary focus, is committed to gender equality – recognising that fighting for gender equality is the responsibility of all of us, not just women. And whilst we take this opportunity to celebrate the fantastic work undertaken right across the sector on gender rights and equality, we look forward to the day when International Women’s Day is no longer necessary.

Contact:

Jenny Bloomfield

Policy Officer

Email: jenny.bloomfield@scvo.org.uk

Tel: 0131 474 8001

Web: www.scvo.org.uk

[1] In this case, within the Scottish Parliament itself: https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/politics/scottish-politics/610159/third-female-staff-holyrood-report-sexual-harassment-sexism-shock-survey/ and also https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/ResearchBriefings/Report/2018/2/27/Committee-witnesses–gender-and-representation