16 Days Of Action: Prevention
Guest Blogger, Emma Ritch, Executive Director of Engender.
The 16 Days of Action is an inspiring, thought-provoking, and sometimes frustrating experience.
Inspiring, because it highlights the bold, creative, thoughtful work that women’s organisations do up and down Scotland to bring an end to men’s violence against women. Thought-provoking, because it provides a chance for public bodies and single-sex service and policymakers alike to reflect on their practice, and think how they might do better. But frustrating because it feels as though things are changing too slowly. No woman in Scotland should have her safety, her dignity, and her wellbeing undermined by male violence.
The Scottish Government has been bold in facing up to the realities of violence against women. Equally Safe, the new-ish strategy to tackle violence against women, recognises at its core that what drives men’s violence is women’s inequality. Violence against women is both a cause and consequence of women’s inequality.
And we still see women’s inequality everywhere. From official statistics about equal pay, and who does the childcare and the dishes, to the gap between maternity and paternity leave, to women’s underrepresentation in the boardroom, the council chamber, and the parliament. We see it in news coverage of female politicians that focuses on their shoes and not their views. We see it begin in socialisation of girls and boys that insists that girls like pink, creativity, and passivity, and boys like camouflage, maths, and action.
Preventing violence against women, then, relies on us tackling women’s economic, social, and political inequality. If that sounds like a big task, it is. Engender is proud to be chairing the prevention workstream of Equally Safe. Our organisational goal is to see a Scotland in which women have equal access to power, resources, and safety. Through Equally Safe we will be working with organisations, agencies, and groups across Scotland to generate new thinking about how we can use existing and new resources to tackle women’s inequality. Organisations as diverse as Close the Gap, Education Scotland, Zero Tolerance, CoSLA, Rape Crisis Scotland, and NHS Health Scotland, are coming together to craft an action plan that we will be proposing to the joint strategic board leading this work.
No country on earth has stopped men’s violence against women. There is no ready roadmap available that takes us from where we are to where we want to be. It is both exciting and daunting to be working with others to do the hard work of imagining how that transformational change may come about. Scotland’s ambitions are large, but so is the enthusiasm and commitment for this task. We will see an end to violence against women.
By Emma Ritch, Executive Director, Engender