Scottish Women’s Aid marks work against abuse

Scottish Women's Aid is marking four decades of working against domestic abuse in Scotland. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Scottish Women's Aid is marking four decades of working against domestic abuse in Scotland. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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SCOTTISH Women’s Aid is to mark 40 years of working to end domestic abuse in Scotland through a project celebrating its heritage.

The project will tell the story of Women’s Aid in Scotland through the voices of the women involved in the movement from its earliest years in the 1970s onwards.

The charity in partnership with Glasgow Women’s Library, the University of Glasgow Centre for Gender History and Women’s History Scotland, has been awarded a £300,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the project.

The money will be used to create an archive, a website, touring exhibition and organise local events which will interpret the history of Scottish Women’s Aid for a wide range of audiences, including local community members, activists, students and academics.

Around 100 women who have been involved in Women’s Aid at different times in its history, and from all parts of Scotland, will be interviewed by up to 50 volunteers to create an oral history “bank” of women’s unique stories.

They will include people who set up the first refuges, and those who have worked for the organisation and campaigned for Women’s Aid, as well as politicians, journalists and academics who have worked closely with the charity.

Their stories will be recorded, archived and gathered in an exhibition celebrating Scottish Women’s Aid’s 40th anniversary.

Nel Whiting, learning and development worker for Scottish Women’s Aid, who is coordinating the project said: “The first Women’s Aid groups started in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 1973, providing refuge accommodation to ‘battered wives’.

“Three years later, the national Scottish Women’s Aid office opened to coordinate awareness raising and put domestic abuse on the political agenda.

“At the time is was simply not considered as a serious social issue. So much has changed since that time, including the language we use to talk about domestic abuse, and much of this is attributable to the work of Women’s Aid in highlighting the scale and seriousness of domestic abuse, and addressing gender inequality as cause and consequence of such violence.”

As part of the project there will also be a new website to ensure the stories and achievements from a period of great social change are kept for posterity.

Adele Patrick, of Glasgow Women’s Library, where the archive will be held, said: “The movement at local and national level is a unique and important part of Scotland’s recent heritage. Those involved over the years have, in different ways, sought to preserve and to celebrate the story, and there is pride in the origins and achievement of Women’s Aid.

“However, the memories and associated artefacts are scattered and have never been systematically catalogued and interpreted. The HLF grant will enable us to make the archive accessible and usable for everyone who wants to learn more about Women’s Aid in Scotland.”

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