Building Equality is an innovative feminist employability project co-ordinated by Scottish Women’s Aid in partnership with Close the Gap and Engender.

The project’s goal is to challenge economic discrimination and develop effective models to improve and protect the economic independence of women experiencing domestic abuse.

Ross-shire Women’s Aid, Women’s Aid South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire and Edinburgh jointly with Shakti Women’s Aid are funded by the Scottish Government for two years to deliver the project. They work closely together to develop creative local solutions to women’s barriers to the paid labour market and help lift women and their children out of poverty.


Paid work can be a key contributing factor to women’s recovery from domestic abuse. Access to financial resources can increase women’s space for action, autonomy and choice, and bring more independence from the abuser. Gaining a job can also have the meaning of recovering lost aspirations and revisiting old hopes and dreams. We also recognise that domestic abuse is a consequence of women’s inequality and that consequently reducing women’s financial inequality will contribute to preventing domestic abuse in Scotland.

But we know that women face a range of barriers that may prevent them moving into or progressing in the paid labour market. At Women’s Aid we see that those barriers are often exacerbated by the experience of domestic abuse. These obstacles can include lack of childcare, appropriate work places or transport; the deliberate tactics of the abuser trying to keep a woman from paid work, and the impact of abuse on women’s ability to engage in labour market activities. There is also a lack of gender and domestic abuse competence on the side of employability services and employers to appropriately support women.

“We know that domestic abuse is both a cause and consequence of women’s inequality; by supporting women to be financially independent we are helping to create a Scotland where women, children and young people are free from poverty and domestic abuse.” – Marsha Scott, Chief Executive Scottish Women’s Aid

Our aim at Building Equality is to find out how we can change this and improve outcomes for women experiencing domestic abuse. We explore the connection between domestic abuse, gender, and paid work and make recommendations how Women’s Aid in Scotland can facilitate women’s empowerment to move into paid work and progress in their careers. At the same time, we also provide a feminist analysis of the injustice women generally and women experiencing domestic abuse specifically are facing in our economy and how both the experience of abuse and poverty rooted in the same cause: women’s inequality.

“I found more of my voice to speak up”

“This course gave me more hope and confidence for my future.”

– Participants of Building Equality group work

“I feel more in control of my life now” 

– Participant of Building Equality training session

Using the knowledge gained through our work together with women experiencing domestic abuse, we are collaborating with Close the Gap and Engender to engage others, such as employers and employability service providers, to change attitudes and tackle the barriers in women’s way to financial independence.

Our mission:

We generate learning on employability, gender, and domestic abuse to:

  • Facilitate the empowerment of women experiencing domestic abuse to move into paid work and progress in their careers;
  • Develop effective models to improve and protect women’s economic independence in Women’s Aid services;
  • Work with employers, employability service providers, and policy makers to change attitudes, challenge economic discrimination, and tackle the barriers in women’s way to financial independence.

Get in touch to find out more about Building Equality.