We’re absolutely thrilled to be finalists for SCVO’s Charity of the Year! For us this is a celebration not just of our work now, but that of the workers, volunteers, survivors and supporters across the Women’s Aid network in Scotland for more than 40 years.
It has been an extraordinary year for us at Scottish Women’s Aid. As we celebrated the rich history of Women’s Aid in Scotland through our Heritage Project, the fruits of 40 years of activism, work and determination were realised as Scotland’s pioneering Domestic Abuse Bill became an Act.
Though we are clear that there is much, much more to do, that Scotland has a world-leading new law that is rooted in and reflective of women, children and young people’s lived experience of domestic abuse is a triumph of Women’s Aid in Scotland.
But our work neither stopped nor started with the passage of the Bill; behind the scenes our staff have been busy as ever influencing policy, developing projects and pioneering initiatives so that women, children and young people can live free from fear and domestic abuse.
In partnership with the Children’s Commissioner our work on Power Up / Power Down – a participation project focused on court-ordered contact for children in the context of domestic abuse – has gone from strength to strength. Drawing on their lived experience to advocate for change, the children and young people became effective children’s rights champions, delivering their calls for change directly to the First Minister and other powerful influencers.
This past year also saw the launch of one thousand words our exciting project in partnership with Zero Tolerance which changed media representations of domestic abuse. Alongside survivors and photographer Laura Dodsworth, we created a whole new set of images for the media to illustrate domestic abuse, moving away from narrow stereotypes of women with bruised faces to reflect the emotional, sexual, financial and coercive elements of abuse. For victim-survivors to recognize their experience and seek support they must see themselves represented and to see the images being used so widely by Scottish media is incredible.
In our national office we’ve coordinated a first-of-its-kind domestic-abuse competent employability project, and it’s fair to say that women involved in Building Equality have thrived. Through the project and with the support of local women’s aid workers, participants who previously experienced multiple barriers to financial independence have gone on to set up their own business, been accepted to college and entered the labour market.
This is just a snippet of the work we do, which is almost always varied, challenging, exciting and at times difficult. It’s hard at times to reflect on success when we live in the knowledge that women, children and young people across Scotland right now are trapped and living in fear, but it is right that we celebrate the milestones and the thousands of women who have worked so hard to transform Scotland.
For this reason we are so excited to have been shortlisted as finalists for Charity of the Year, and in even more good news you can also vote for us in the People’s Choice award! It is tough competition, but an honour to be nominated and regardless of the result we are proud to be celebrating the efforts of all those women who have brought us this far.
We still have a very long way to go, but this is the closest we’ve ever been.