FRANK RSS Feed List of latest articles from WEA Women at Work Not Another One At a time when child sex abuse in Scotland is once again in the headlines, we have this powerful piece from WEA Women@Work Local Network Coordinator, Orla Broderick. Look away, turn away. Close the screen, throw away the newspaper. Another group of women share a history of oppression and shame. It's banal, it's commonplace, it's sigh-worthy. It's 'oh no, here we go again.' Dismiss me any way you can, remove me from your radar, your social chat, your mind, your consciousness. We read this last week, last year - a hundred years ago. At seventeen I demanded conversations about what abuse was and what my family knew about it. Thirty years later (almost) I am still asking the same questions. Nothing has changed. My class mates are the latest to join in the anthem of suffering. The once-silent ones standing with the not so silent ones. I was rarely quiet about the state of affairs in the boarding school I attended. I'm fairly sure almost everyone I've had even a passing meeting with has been aware that I considered my boarding school a hell hole and an abomination. Close friends know why I am terrified of nuns and choirs. If our mothers spoke we could join the dots to where it all started, how it was perpetuated. But many of our mothers still refuse to admit that they knew we were being raped, groped or hurt. Before they were our mothers, they were daughters. They were raped, groped, silenced daughters, just like us.  My mother dismissed my abuse claims with the phrase "never mind that one, she has a great imagination". This was a common cliché. I heard my grandmothers say the same of her. Our mothers spoke over us, denying our truth, burying our voices. That was their job. It was what they were taught to do, encouraged, forced, to do.  Take your eyes from these words, don't read on. It's the same old story told over and over and over again. "I threw a snowball and slipped on the ice, ended up with my leg in a cast and a bed in the junior dorm, under the eye of a young orange haired nun with immense breasts. The night she put her hand under my duvet I nearly broke her wrist. She was a big thing and she had a pal, another young nun who was all creepy-cuddly. They frustrated and annoyed me, always watching me, always standing too close. I stole from their pockets, their lockers, their larders. I used their phone. I drank their wine. I took up smoking, drinking, mitching, thieving. I acted up, acted out, spoke out of turn. I stomped and ranted. The young nuns were reprimanded and we seniors were given rooms to share. Away from their glare, I had boyfriends in several towns and villages around rural Ireland and a large bottle of Bulmers waiting in many bars. I went where I wanted, did as I pleased. No one cared." This is my own true voice. This is my memory. My family refuse to believe this memory of mine is real. They tell me I made it up. That I have a great imagination.  All these old yarns have pain and suffering sewn into the fabric of us. It's the thread that binds. We try to buy it away with pretty things or watch it away with terrible telly. But it's in the breaths we take when we are alone. The pain is the truth we dare not tell, the not daring tell is the pain. Round and ever round. On and ever on. The hardest thing for me to accept was that my father did nothing. I was disappointed in men by the time I was eighteen. At twenty I began to believe he wasn't my dad at all, because he hadn't spoken about the hell hole. I saw Irish men as weak. They were the only ones who could have stopped the priests from groping their daughters. But they didn't. My mother and I argued like bitches. We fought wars about abuse, patterns, priests and the like. She told the world I was a liar. In secret she said I deserved it. Scoil Muire Gan Smál was another one. Just another catholic boarding school with a long shadow. Just one more isolated religious establishment with a a paedo priest and his willing nuns.  And now, just one more group of women are sharing their memories, swapping the small remembrances, offering each other a bit of love and space to say aye, we were there too. It happened. You are not alone. You lived. I am here too. Orla's novel, The January Flower, was long listed for the Polari First Book Award 2013. In 2014, she won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Orla lives in Findhorn. FRANK is where you get to have your say on the Woman@Work website. Submissions for FRANK can be on any subject and can be submitted at any time. There is no minimum length, maximum length is 800 words. Please include a sentence or two about yourself with your submission. Views expressed in FRANK are entirely those of the contributor and are not necessarily endorsed by WEA Women@Work. Submissions should be sent as Word attachments with FRANK in the subject heading to: Open, honest and direct in speech or writing, especially when dealing with unpalatable matters. Thu, 8 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT The New Normal Alison Napier is 58 and was diagnosed with a Grade 3 breast cancer in June 2016. 'Grief! Why are people baking bloody Victoria Sponges and cupcakes to pay for a MacMillan nurse? Aaaargh! There are a thousand surgeons and multi-disciplinary teams on alert when it's a curable dramatic cancer. If it's quiet and sad and terminal we have a bloody coffee morning.' It is advert time and I forgot to mute. 'Don't go getting yourself all aeriated now,' wisely counselled Nurse Beloved, not looking up from her computer game. Money confuses me, particularly public money. Unless I am wrong, there does not seem to be a genuine shortage of it in UK plc, the fifth richest economy in the Entire World. Poorly distributed, but plenty there. A quick scan of recent headlines tells me the following: Amazon paid sixpence, two marbles and a dusty caramel in tax to the Irish government. The 6th Duke of Westminster died leaving an estate of maybe £9.9bn and his heir will probably not have to pay lots of inheritance tax (at 40% amounting to £3.74bn give or take) because it is held in trusts and offshore places. Allegedly. Trident will cost at least £205bn to replace according to CND (or £17.5bn according to the always canny and veracious MoD) and the current nuclear version has failed to prevent any of the recent horrific atrocities in Europe. And that's why I am indeed aeriated. Because if I add together the unpaid UK taxes of Amazon and its chums, even just one legally avoided inheritance tax and the lowest estimate for Trident I get £13.75 billion pounds. And that is an awful lot of Victoria Sponges, and more than 370 times more than the £37 million raised by Children in Need last year. I know. Calm down, dear. But where's the fun in that. Hashtag Headache. Why it is saintly and noble to wear a pink ribbon and bake a pink cake and embarrassingly ungrateful particularly as a cancer sufferer ('Quiet there, blogger at the back,') to question the ethos behind the campaigns, and to wonder why, when there is clearly no lack of cash in these sceptred isles, the terminally ill are relying on a recipe donated by Kirsty Allsopp for Key Lime Pie and a non-biodegradable silicone charity wristband made in China to secure dignified end of life care? Earlier this year the World Health Organisation gave coffee a clean bill of health, saying that it did not cause cancer after all, and all the Coffee Morning bakers and hostesses and hosts surely dodged a bullet and a lot of unfortunate press. So in the years between 1991 and 2016, a mere quarter of a century, coffee has been rehabilitated. Don't give up, bacon. The jury is still out on sugar as a possible carcinogenic, at least until after all the coffee and cake events.And it's not just terminal cancer patients having to rely on charity to be able to provide a highly skilled professional to support and care for them at the end of their life. Like many I winced when the rich earnest pop singers crooned, 'And there won't be snow in Africa...' (Duh, the Atlas Mountains? Kilimanjaro?) and, 'Where nothing ever grows.' Oh for heavens sakes. Nothing? Ever? Really? Of course when I'm not being aeriated I know there is another side to this story. I may not understand why the government will not fully fund all the end of life care that is needed, leaving charities to the mercy of public generosity and the whim of public opinion but shouting about it will not change anything. I will be grateful that I have a socially acceptable illness that the public are happy to support financially. It would be different if I were an unkempt aggressive homeless drug user for no one bakes cakes for them. And who benefits from discouraging us from asking the difficult Why questions, encouraging us instead to take part in undoubtedly highly organised and successful celebrity and media-backed fund raising events, as if there were no alternative, and it was all just a bit of a lark? People I have a huge respect for take part in these events. Five years ago a fabulous former work colleague was instrumental in successfully halting a royal cavalcade in the Highlands with a line of 8000 bras strung between two East Sutherland villages, with volunteers in pink cowboy hats stopping traffic and rattling buckets. Charles and Camilla donated £30 (between them!) to the Breast Cancer Unit in Inverness. People getting together, meeting their neighbours and making new friends, sharing food, forming a common purpose, how can I possibly get aeriated about that? Eating together even reduces obesity! So I will stop, my chemo-fogged argument has suddenly entirely consumed itself and I will just be pleased to have got it off my interestingly scarred chest. Alison Napier Alison is a social worker to trade and is also a writer. Her short stories are published in many collections and anthologies in both Scotland and England and her non-fiction has appeared in a variety of national newspapers and journals. She lives in Perthshire with her partner Susan, enjoys her allotment on an island in the River Tay (regrettably prone to regular flooding…!), cooks once a week for a lunch club for older people and plays the recorder with a fine bunch of friends in her spare time. This blog was originally written for and published on OAPSchat - a website for Optomistic and Pro-Active seniors. FRANK is where you get to have your say on the Woman@Work website. Submissions for FRANK can be on any subject and can be submitted at any time. There is no minimum length, maximum length is 800 words. Please include a sentence or two about yourself with your submission. Views expressed in FRANK are entirely those of the contributor and are not necessarily endorsed by WEA Women@Work. Submissions should be sent as Word attachments with FRANK in the subject heading to: Open, honest and direct in speech or writing, especially when dealing with unpalatable matters. Tue, 1 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT Fully Engaged In this FRANK column, Lorraine Thomson, W@W Project Coordinator, expresses a personal viewpoint.The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a story of rare impact. As with Catch 22, the phrase Jekyll and Hyde has transcended the book and become part of our everyday language. Although Jekyll and Hyde is not my favourite Stevenson story (that plaudit goes to The Bottle Imp), I have recently been dwelling upon it as the duality at the heart of the tale seems to me to reflect the contemporary existential struggle. We are living at a time of incredible change and innovation. Knowledge, opportunities, and the possibility of interacting with people across the world are only a device away. Young people especially, have the chance to learn and connect with the world in a way that was unthinkable during my formative years before the internet existed and the main job of the local librarian was to keep knowledge-hungry kids out of the adult section lest they stumble upon something more challenging than Enid Blyton's Secret Seven. But with the positive comes the correlating negative. The ability to engage has become a fear of ever switching off and life is lived at an intensity previously unknown. Long gone are the days when school with all its trials and tribulations was left behind with the ring of the final bell. Now there is no respite; the good, the bad, and the intensity of knowing what everyone thinks about everything all the time shadows you home. Sinatra sang Saturday Night Is the Loneliest Night of the Week; before the advent of the internet you might have thought so but with the rise of social media don't you just know it. It's right there on Facebook, everyone is at the party and you weren't invited. There is no escape, no let-up. So-called banter gets grotesquely out of hand in group chats. People flounce after being roasted, but being roasted is better than not being included in the first place. Opinions become fact, rumours mutate into truth, while in her bedroom a naïve girl takes an intimate photograph to send to some guy she doesn't know and who most likely isn't who he says he is.  Child exploitation didn't start with the internet and if the web disintegrated overnight it wouldn't end, but the gaping maw of the web, ever hungry for more and more images has made the cynical corruption of our children increasingly profitable. The internet doesn't just make the gratification of sexual voyeurs easier to achieve; it seems to make everything easier but what we are being fed is the illusion of choice. Everything on the internet is a click, a swipe, a tap of the keyboard away. Instant gratification followed by more instant gratification leading to a dulling of the senses. Maybe that's why so many young people self-harm - because feeling something is better than feeling nothing. Or maybe it's because they read about it online and they want to be as tortured and sensitive as everyone else. No wonder so many of them turn to drugs, which are also only a text or a click away. They know the dangers, sure they do - they get told about them at school. But health warnings don't work, the kids either feel so young and invincible that the thought of losing a few brain cells doesn't matter, or they are on such a nihilistic mind trip that death by drugs seems like an acceptable option. The ones who survive this stage of their lives will come out at the other end to face a Brave New World, for the internet and all that comes with it, is in its infancy. We haven't begun to tap into what is possible; depending on your point of view this is either an exhilarating thought or one which terrifies. Perhaps instead of the device being hand-held and never out of grasp, it will become corporeal. The screen will be absorbed into the body and everyone barcoded at birth so that they may purchase what they will with the blink of an eye or a flicker of a thought. We will be 100% engaged and Hyde, as he does in Stevenson's tale, will have won.Lorraine ThomsonLorraine lives in Ullapool where she is a member of the Coastal Rowing Club. Writing as LG Thomson, she is the author of four published books. FRANK is where you get to have your say on the Woman@Work website. Submissions for FRANK can be on any subject and can be submitted at any time. There is no minimum length, maximum length is 800 words. Please include a sentence or two about yourself with your submission. Views expressed in FRANK are entirely those of the contributor and are not necessarily endorsed by WEA Women@Work. Submissions should be sent as Word attachments with FRANK in the subject heading to: Open, honest and direct in speech or writing, especially when dealing with unpalatable matters. Fri, 7 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT Sick of Superheroes In this FRANK column, Debbie Mathews, Local Network Coordinator for Ross-shire, expresses her views on superheros. Really.  I've had enough of them.  There's a never-ending stream of boys in spandex, or metal - cape optional - with the odd girl thrown in for sex appeal; although let's face it, it's mostly boys: Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman, Captain America, Ant Man, The Hulk, Thor, Blade, Ghost Rider, Dr Strange, Black Panther and Nick Fury.  Shall I go on? I'm no expert.  I have no idea how many superheroes there are and I'm not about to do a Google search to find out.  Actually, I've just done a Google search, and the results are staggering.  The list goes on for pages: fan clubs, games, Lego, costumes, films, TV, and merchandise. Marvel has defined the superhero in contemporary culture. Marvel's own modern incarnation was in 1960's comics in the USA, although the brand had other manifestations prior to that.  The comics transferred to TV in 1966 and the brand was bought by Disney in 2009, and as you'd expect, a continuous excretion of films, games and attendant merchandising, raking up billions, has followed. These superheroes do not live in a vacuum.  There are the requisite villains, of course, super-villains who always get defeated and yet always rise up in some new incarnation bigger, meaner, stronger.  That's one of the things about superheroes; they need villains to be able to 'do their thing'.  And we all know what that is: the fights and explosions.  Except what used to be 'Bing!' 'Bang!' and 'Kapow!' has turned into increasingly realistic special effects which are less and less comic style.  With the violence bigged-up on screen, there is often massive destruction in its wake and these 'good guys' often kill as many civilians as they save. In an ideal world with power comes responsibility, but seemingly not if you wear a costume and a have a super-ego to match your super-powers.  Oh no, then you get carte blanche to cause as much death and destruction as Mr Villain.  Superheroes, supposedly a fighting-for-good patriotic bunch, seem to be enjoying a punch up for the hell of it as much as for anything more noble.  Though unintended, it's a neat metaphor for a country that wades in all over the world picking fights with villains of their own definition, often for less than moral causes. Superheroes create super-villains and war monger create wars and rebels. OK, so I don't need to see another superhero film.  I can let my partner get on with it and pass.  The fact is, I will still be bombarded with this stuff: in trailers, in the media, on lines, in kid's games, in merchandising.  You can't avoid it.  It's in the ether and the psyche.  And it's depressing. We all know life isn't as simple as good guy/bad guy, but these stereotypes stick.  Look at the female superheroes.  Surely we have more in our armoury than sex appeal?  And let's face it, girls don't get out of bed in the morning with point perfect makeup and no bed hair.  We do not all have figures like Scarlett Johansson.  But as long as guys are the making movies... Best not get me started on those topics though, I can feel another rant coming on! My superheroes are all real people who have fought against the odds, Mandela and Malala, the Paralympians, the ordinary people who are less than perfect but are standing up for what they believe in against hostility or persecution.  And what about the ordinary people who have superpowers?  The peacemakers and leaders, those with quiet perseverance?  I'm with Bowie - 'we can be heroes' if we believe our ordinary lives matter, and other ordinary lives matter: black lives, LGBT lives, disabled lives, immigrant lives. I bet you haven't heard of Jessica Jones.  She's an original Marvel character, a private-eye who prefers to use her brain to her brawn.  She's a superhero in a much looser sense: foul-mouthed, hard drinking, and not a stitch of spandex in sight.  Now she is someone I could get to like, but as yet she has made no appearance on the big screen. So, as I say, I'm sick of superheroes.  Sick of the fighting and destruction and posturing. There's only so much escapism this girl can take. We need a new breed of superhero, modelled in our own image, so that real courage and sitckability, and standing up for truth are the superpowers we encourage and admire.  For now, if I don't see another superhero in my lifetime it will still be too soon!Debbie MathewsBorn in London, but now living on a hill overlooking the Cromarty Firth, Debbie has spent the last 12 years working in the third sector as an advocate, community worker and in mental health.  As well as her new role with W@W, she is a self-employed cook and writer and was one of the founder members of the Highland Literary Salon. FRANK is where you get to have your say on the Woman@Work website. Submissions for FRANK can be on any subject and can be submitted at any time. There is no minimum length, maximum length is 800 words. Please include a sentence or two about yourself with your submission. Views expressed in FRANK are entirely those of the contributor and are not necessarily endorsed by WEA Women@Work. Submissions should be sent as Word attachments with FRANK in the subject heading to: Open, honest and direct in speech or writing, especially when dealing with unpalatable matters. Mon, 12 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT Inverness, Highland Youth Arts Hub Showcase, Sat 10 Sept. 2016, 1pm - 4pm, Ironworks This special afternoon celebrates the tremendous wealth of talent amongst young people living in the Highlands. Join us for an afternoon of multi-art form performances from a number of young people who have engaged with the Highland Youth Arts Hub between 2014-2016. The line-up includes the debut performance of 'Poetry in Motion'; a youth-led partnership project delivered by SkyeDance, The Highland Council Instrumental Service & poet and writer, Harry Giles. The HYAH has worked over the past 2 years with 13 Highland based youth and arts organisations to provide collaborative project opportunities for young people aged 12-25.  This afternoon will demonstrate some of the results from this pilot phase...and will showcase a short, lively programme curated solely by the HYAH Youth Forum.Free event. Book your ticket here. Mon, 5 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT Dingwall, Tain, Thurso, LOSE YOUR FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING 1st Mon each month, 7pm, Tulloch Castle, Dingwall3rd Mon each month, 7pm, Duthus House, Tain7th Sept Launch, 7pm, North Highland College, ThursoThese events are hosted by Toastmasters, a not for profit organisation operating throughout the world helping people to improve their public speaking skills. Come along and find out how improving your public speaking skills can help you in your professional and social life. Learn more about Toastmasters. No commitment, no sell, just a group of people that work together to improve everyone's speaking and communication skills. Go to North Highland Speakers for more information. Thu, 18 Aug 2016 00:00:00 GMT HIGHLAND HOSPICE - Saturday 18th June Young people and those looking for a change of career are being offered the chance to look behind the scenes of his construction site. Open Doors site visits demonstrate the diverse range of career opportunities available within construction and give people a taste of what it is like to work in the industry.Spaces are limited so to register your place please goes to and click on Highland Hospice Wed, 25 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT The WEA Woman@Work Survey 2015/16 The WEA Woman@Work Survey 2015/16.  Complete this survey and you could win a £25:00 shopping voucher.  The draw will take place on the 28th March. Click here to access survey Mon, 7 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT "I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results." - Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) "I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results." - Florence Nightingale (1820-1910).  "The lady with the lamp", Florence Nightingale, nursed wounded soldiers during the Crimean war. Her passion and dedication to the profession changed public's perception about this profession. Her insistence on improving sanitary conditions for the patients is believed to have saved many lives. The Florence Nighingale Foundation Wed, 6 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT Nellie Bly, 1864-1922 Nellie Bly, 1864-1922.  Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran on May 5, 1864 in the town of Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania.  The town was named for her father, Judge Michael Cochran. Early in life, Elizabeth earned the nickname "Pink" because her mother routinely dressed her in that colour.  To read about this remarkable lady click here. Mon, 9 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT Mother Teresa (1910-1997) - "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." Mother Teresa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner (1979), aimed at looking after those who had nobody to look after them through her own order "The Missionaries of Charity". She worked tirelessly towards her goal until her ill-health - that included two heart attacks, pneumonia and malaria - forced her to step down in March 1997, following which she took her last breath in September 1997.  For more information click here Tue, 13 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT "Each coming together of man and wife, even if they have been mated for many years, should be a fresh adventure; each winning should necessitate a fresh wooing." - Marie Stopes (1880-1958) The british scientist Marie Stopes is best known for her achievements in the fields of birth control and sex education in the 20th century.  She publicly addressed romantic and sexual happiness in a marriage, thereby, breaking many barriers in the society.  Stopes was a campaigner for women's rights and a pioneer in the field of family planning. Marie Stopes was born on 15 October 1880 in Edinburgh to an archaeologist father and scholarly mother who was also a suffragist. Her studies as a paleobotanist took her to universities in London and Munich, then to Manchester where she became the first female member of the science faculty at the university. In 1911, she married Reginald Ruggles Gates. The relationship quickly broke down, and Marie realised that her husband was impotent and the marriage was unconsummated. It was annulled in 1914. Please click here for more info. Tue, 11 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC, GM served as a British Special Operations Executive Agent during the later part of World War II. Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC, GM served as a British Special Operations Executive Agent during the later part of World War II.  Nancy Wake was born in New Zealand but her family moved to Australia when she was 2. She spent her childhood in Sydney and after her studies she traveled to Europe where she worked as a journalist. In 1939 Nancy married French industrialist Henri Fiocca who was killed during the War.  For more information click here. Tue, 11 Aug 2015 00:00:00 GMT Violette Szabo – “The Bravest of Us All” Violette Szabo was an undercover secret agent for the SOE (Special Operations Executive) in Occupied France during World War Two. After completing two special missions, she was captured by the Germans and executed in 1945. This is her incredible story. See more here Tue, 21 Jul 2015 00:00:00 GMT Moina Belle Michael Biography (1869-1944) Moina Belle Michael Biography (1869-1944)  Moina Belle Michael was an American teacher who had the idea to create an emblem of Remembrance using the red Flanders poppy. At the age of 49, with a career in teaching for over 30 years already behind her, she had this inspirational idea in November 1918. She decided to dedicate her life to campaign to have this emblem recognized by governments, veteran agencies and the public.  She continued with this project for the next 26 years until her death in 1944 and became affectionately known as “the Poppy Lady”. For more information click here. Mon, 29 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT Cathay Williams: The Only Black Woman Buffalo Soldier Cathay Williams: The Only Black Woman Buffalo Soldier - Private Cathay Williams was the only woman to serve in the US Army as a Buffalo Soldier. On November 15, 1866 she enlisted in the Army as a man. Williams reversed her name William Cathay and lived as a male soldier and served until she was found out due to the last of many illnesses she suffered while a serving. She is the only documented black woman known to have served in the Army during these times when enlisting women was prohibited. Find out more here. Tue, 23 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT Margaret Mackworth, otherwise known as Lady Rhondda, was an important women’s rights campaigner throughout the first half of the 20th century Margaret Mackworth, otherwise known as Lady Rhondda, was an important women’s rights campaigner throughout the first half of the 20th century Wed, 17 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)  "Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried.  When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others."  Too read more about Amelia Earhart please click here Mon, 15 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT Isobel Wylie Hutchison was an Scottish Arctic traveller and botanist. Isobel Wylie Hutchison was an Scottish Arctic traveller and botanist. She also wrote poetry, books on her travels and articles in various geographic magazines. She painted many scenes from her adventures.While not attending school until she was in her teens she received a comprehensive education from a private tutor and from her parents. In her teens she went to a private school in Edinburgh and received an education suitable for a Victorian young lady. She did not attend university but went to a private college (Studley College) in her early twenties. To read more info click here. Wed, 10 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT Anne Frank (1929-1945) - "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart." Anne Frank (1929-1945) During her stay in Netherlands while hiding from the German forces, Anne Frank, a young jewish girl, was gifted a diary by her father when she was 13. However, her diary was published after her death in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the age of 15. The diary served as a unique eye-witness account of life during Holocaust (mass murder of approximately six million Jews during World War II) and it became one of the world's most read books.  Read More here. Tue, 9 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT Coin tribute to WW1's Edith Cavell Coin tribute to WW1's Edith Cavell.  A new coin celebrating brave and devoted nurse Edith Cavell has been struck by the Royal Mint as part of its five-year commemoration of the First World War.  When war broke out in 1914, Cavell formed a Red Cross hospital in Brussels and nursed German and Belgian wounded soldiers. Following the German occupation of the city, her institution was placed at the disposal of the invading army, and although Cavell was offered the chance to return to Britain, she chose to remain with her nurses.  To read more click here Mon, 1 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT Millicent Fawcett dedicated her life to peacefully fighting for women's rights. Millicent Fawcett (1847-1929) Millicent Fawcett dedicated her life to peacefully fighting for women's rights but she remained an underrated leader of the suffrage movement (campaign for women to have the vote). She encouraged her politician husband Henry Fawcett to carry on with his work after he was blinded in an accident.   "A large part of the present anxiety to improve the education of girls and women is also due to the conviction that the political disabilities of women will not be maintained." - Millicent Fawcett (1847-1929) Read more here Mon, 1 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT Eileen Gray Dies Aged 95 An inspiration to women who ride, who said 'if you want something, you have to fight for it' Eileen Gray Dies Aged 95 An inspiration to women who ride, who said 'if you want something, you have to fight for it'   Read more here Tue, 26 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT Flora MacNeil obituary Singer who brought Scotland’s Gaelic music to a world audience Flora MacNeil, who has died aged 86, was the standard-bearer of Scotland’s Gaelic musical tradition and a magnificent performer on the concert platform and at festivals around the world over a period of seven decades  A woman of immense grace and charm, she enjoyed a status as a singer that was matched by her zest for life. Veteran of a thousand ceilidhs, she was always there to the end – full of warmth, humour and music. She became an international ambassador for the language and culture in which she was deeply rooted.  click here for more info Tue, 26 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT FEMALE BUSINESS OWNERS SEEK ENTERPRISE SUPPORT, FINANCE AND MARKET OPPORTUNITIES Thank you to everyone who completed our survey of women-owned businesses in Scotland.  The results are in and you can read the full report on our new website.   Over 80% of entrepreneurial businesswomen in Scotland want to grow their businesses and are actively seeking access to enterprise support, finance and market opportunities, a new survey has a revealed. Launching the Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) Survey of Women-Owned Businesses 2014 on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, WES CEO Margaret Gibson said:  “The majority of women are running microbusinesses, employing fewer than ten staff, and our survey results show that personal savings were the main source of business finance in the last twelve months for this group, with only 12% accessing public funds.  The general perception was that investment for future business growth was more problematic. In addition, respondents indicated a clear preference for flexible business support, where a selection of services were available rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.  Importantly, this support should be enhanced by providing a range of appropriate role models and mentors, who can inspire and encourage other women.  Today’s launch incorporates the introduction of the second group of Women’s Enterprise Scotland Ambassadors, who can do exactly that. They will inspire, motivate, engage and connect with women-led start-up and growth businesses.”  Download the Survey Report here. Tue, 9 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT Business Gateway Inverness Business Gateway run regular events across Highland that are a great way to learn new business skills, develop your knowledge, and network with other local businesses.   You can search for events on this page by topic, or by location. Tue, 2 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT The Scottish W omens Convention - Report on Inverness Referendum Event Scottish Women's Convention - Report on Inverness Referendum Event.  The SWC organised this event in recognition that women from different backgrounds throughout Scotland have significant questions and issues around the forthcoming referendum. Women want to know how this historic decision will impact on them, their families and communities as a whole.  The events are chaired by Agnes Tolmie, Chair of the SWC. Our organisation works with Yes Scotland and Better Together to source speakers and panel members.  Click here to download the report. Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT The Scottish Womens Convention Briefing Papers The SWC have been holding referendum events for women since the beginning of the year, and questions around the constitution have arisen at most of these, along with a number of other issues.  Women have made it clear to us that they want to know what would happen with the constitution if there is a Yes vote. In light of this, the SWC has produced a briefing paper around the consultation, which breaks it down to the key points and changes the jargon used into language that everyone can understand. Please note that reports from the referendum events we have held are available on our website.  We have also produced briefing papers on a variety of different topics, which can be found on our website   please click here for briefing papers Mon, 18 Aug 2014 00:00:00 GMT Newsletter - The Standards Council for Community Learning and Development for Scotland: Policy Commentary Since then we’ve carried out a survey of members’ views. Hopefully you took the opportunity to contribute to this, together with around a third of members. This excellent response will help to guide the Standards Council over the coming year and we will be feeding back on what you told us and what we plan to do as a result. And working in partnership with IACD, we’ve delivered Community is the answer: the conference brought together almost 500 community development practitioners, academics and community activists from around the world. Click here to view or download newsletter Wed, 16 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women - Elizabeth Elgar (Manager/Owner Eliza-Kate Crafts Nairn) Name:-  Elizabeth Elgar,Job title:- Manager/Owner  Eliza-Kate Crafts Tell us a bit about your role:- To provide a place for local people to sell their handmade crafts/art at a set rate rental, to provide a place for local people and visitors to enjoy a stress-free shopping experience, to provide crafts and activities to all people from all ages on a regular basis : promoting creativity, messy play, freedom of expression and identity. Relationship to W@W e.g. Advisory group member, Network work member:- Hobby:- Fimo critters, field archery and walking/exploring with my 5yr old  1.     What would you tell your 16 year old self?  Go back to school for just one more year… you are not quite ready chick!  2.     What was your first Job? Mother’s Help in London (aged 16)  3.     What Woman/Women have inspired you?  Every woman inspires me because every woman has a story, we are the most incredibly adaptable people with amazing strength, courage and capacity to care.  4.     What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women?  Removal of chauvinistic ideology from every household - which would hopefully have a knock-on effect with equality and respect for the future generations.  5.     Who would be your ideal dinner guests?  Stephen Fry, Richard Attenborough, Johann Lamont MSP, Dawn French, Sue Stockdale, and Johnny Depp  6.     What is the best advice you have been given?  Be honest but always end a negative with a positive and don’t keep crossing to the sunny side of the street – control the balance because opportunity can be found anywhere.  7.     Favourite holiday spot?  Anywhere on the planet as long as my family are with me. Mon, 16 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT Today we are launching WRC's new feature 'Thought Leadership Thursdays'. Every week we will be offering a critical alternative feminist viewpoint on a current topic in the form of a short two-minute video clip.  This week we are tackling the issue of gendered violence and how the generalisation "violence is violence" is highly problematic.  The first Thought Leadership Thursday commentary is by our CEO, Vivienne Hayes. To watch video click link below. Wed, 11 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women - Susan Kruse Inspirational interview  Name: - Susan Kruse Job title: - Tutor Tell us a bit about your role: - Tutor on heritage courses for the WEA and ARCH Relationship to WEA W@W:- I’ve been a WEA student, WEA Local Association committee member, former W@W Local Network  Co-ordinator Hobby: - Gardening- when there’s time  1.     What would you tell your 16 year old self? You can do what you want- have confidence and learn to negotiate  2.     What was your first Job? Working in recycling centre at town dump. (In the early days of recycling)  3.     What Woman/Women have inspired you? ·        My Mother who struggled in the 1950’s. ·        My Grandmother who lived to be 103, coping with two world wars and upheaval. ·        Prof Janet Nelson (Lecturer, author, teacher and nice person). ·        Suffragists for inspiration on campaigning for their beliefs  4.     What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women? Tolerance for all  5.     Who would be your ideal dinner guests? Close friends- One should make the time  6.     What is the best advice you have been given? Try to stand in other people’s shoes to understand their view points  7.     Favourite holiday spot? Scotland, Scandinavia, New Hampshire Mon, 19 May 2014 00:00:00 GMT National Youth Work Strategy National Youth Work Strategy - 'Our ambitions for improving the life chances of young people in Scotland' Education Scotland is delighted to present the national Youth Work Strategy, 'Our ambitions for improving the life chances of young people in Scotland'. This Strategy recognises youth work as a key and distinctive component of the Scottish Government's present and future agenda for young people.  Included within the Strategy is an implementation plan, which provides a detailed action plan for the first two years. It outlines the responsibilities for each of the agencies involved in taking the Strategy forward. Through time, progress and information updates will be produced to keep implementation fresh and current.  Education Scotland is grateful to Scottish Government, and to YouthLink Scotland and its members, for their support in developing 'Our ambitions for improving the life chances of young people in Scotland', and for working with us to facilitate the national discussion which shaped the final strategy.  To download file please click on link below.   Mon, 14 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women: Lorna Norgrove The mother of Scottish aid worker, Linda Norgrove, who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and subsequently died in a failed rescue attempt, was among the guest speakers at our conference this year.Her speech was moving and dignified.   The conference delegates were pinned to their seats with a mixture of awe and respect for Lorna who knew that she could not allow bitterness to fill her life after the tragic loss of one of her daughters.   Rather than allow negative feelings for the people of Afghanistan, Lorna and her husband set up the Foundation  to help the women and children affected by the same war that killed her daughter.When Lorna mentioned, towards the end of her speech, that this was the first time she had spoken publicly about the Foundation it brought a wave of surprise and compassion over the delegates.  We were privileged to have Lorna as a speaker at our conference. Wed, 19 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Interview: Karen Powell Name:- Karen PowellJob title:- Pilates InstructorI run my own business instructing Pilates through running group classes and individual one -to one- sessions. I also instruct Nordic walking. Highlandpilates@yahoo.comHobby:- I love being in the outdoors, and keeping fit particularly running, cycling and swimming. I also enjoy gardening, painting and reading. What would you tell your 16 year old self?   To be yourself and to believe in yourself. Be confident to go out there and explore the world ; be adventurous; be kind, and treat others as you would like to be treated; and always smile. What was your first Job?    Collecting eggs on a duck farm in Lincolnshire. Other jobs have included being a lifeguard, a chartered legal librarian and youth worker. What Woman/Women have inspired you?   Lillie Lantree, an independent women around the turn of the twentieth century, when it was difficult to speak out as a female. Marie Hellen, a french student friend who inspired me to paint; Ferga Perry, another friend who helped guide me through a change in career and any woman who shares strength & compassion for what they believe in. What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women? I found this difficult but having confidence in their own abilities, and standing up for themselves. In this country we are generally very lucky about how well women are treated. Who would be your ideal dinner guests?  Any of my friends and family, at different times, & anyone prepared to taste my cooking! Of well known people it would have to be a young Daley Thompson - showing my age now! What is the best advice you have been given?    I've been given a lot of advice over the years but the best most recent advice was that life is about choices, even the wrong choice is better than no choice at all. Not making a choice is a choice in itself and often the wrong one. Make good choices. Favourite holiday spot? Camping on a mountain in the sunshine! ahhhh Mon, 27 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women - Anne Marie Goldie Name:- Mrs AnneMarie Goldie Job title:- News Sub-Editor for BBC Scotland I compile and read news bulletins local to the Highlands.  I cover stories for the Highlands, Islands, Argyll and Moray. I need to keep up to date with local news and judge what stories ought to be included.Hobby:- cycling, road and mountain biking; running, walking, playing the flute and spending time with family.   What would you tell your 16 year old self? Believe in yourself; follow what you want to do, keeping your options open. Show an interest in other people and be enthusiastic. Think about what you can give as opposed to what you can get.  What was your first Job? Working in the Rosemarkie beach café while at school; also in the Anderson Hotel, Fortrose and at the Golf Club there.  What Woman/Women have inspired you? Annie Lennox, very talented and individual. My best friend at school, Sheena Clark who showed me that anything is possible, she's now an actress/ dancer with her own dance school in London. Also Sandy Toxfig - comedien & writer for being different; and Tove Janssen, author.What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women? Maternity Leave and job sharing allow women to have careers and family has made a big difference to women. We are very fortunate in this country.  Who would be your ideal dinner guests? Mary Livingston, wife of David; JK Rowling and Bradley Wiggins  What is the best advice you have been given? Have faith in yourself & trust your instincts - While working in one field of broadcasting and wanting to get in to another, I was helped realise my preferred role by being told to have faith in myself and believe I could do the job. I got the job and enjoy it.  Favourite holiday spot? Nepal, it is out of this world and the people so humble. Tue, 17 Dec 2013 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Interview: Kate MacLean Kate Maclean Community Development Officer, Services for Older People, NHS, covering Inverness, Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey. I try to match resources with need, to facilitate social opportunities for the over 50s. Relationship to W@W : Network colleague. Hobby:- Jogging! What would you tell your 16 year old self? Trust your instinct What was your first Job? Function waitress at the Cummings Hotel! Soon after that, I worked in the Inverness Tourist office. What Woman/Women have inspired you? My mother, Gladys :Vivienne Westwood: Anita Roddick What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women? delayed fertility Who would be your ideal dinner guests? Johnny Depp, Alex Salmond, Alan Cumming, Will Self, Bette Midler, Annie Lennox, Helena Kennedy, What is the best advice you have been given? never join a political party Favourite holiday spot? Agadir, Morocco Wed, 27 Nov 2013 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Interview: Alison McLure Name: Alison McLure Job title: National Officer (Scotland), Institute of Physics.  My job is to promote physics within Scotland. This involves a wide variety of tasks. One day I might be in the Scottish Parliament presenting evidence of the contribution of physics to the Scottish economy, the next day I could be at a Highland games doing physics busking and trying to inspire the next generation to take up physics.   Relationship to Women@Work:  I'm going to be a speaker at the Wick STEM event on November 13th.   Hobby:  Doing outdoory things.   What would you tell your 16 year old self? Relax, it'll all work out better than you can ever imagine. Just follow your heart.   What was your first Job? Instructing sailing in dinghies in a loch off the Clyde.   What Woman/Women have inspired you? Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the woman who discovered pulsars, who continues to work hard to engage others in physics and is a thoroughly lovely person. Also the women in my climbing club who remain active and interesting throughout their lives.   What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women? I think that there should be a change to the attitudes of societies that women should behave in certain ways and always take on certain roles. Women should be able to be themselves and not what others expect them to be.   Who would be your ideal dinner guests? There are so many amazing people around, it's really difficult to choose, but if I have to.....Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Heather Reid, Wangari Maathai, Richard Feynmann, Ellen McArthur and Wally Herbert.     What is the best advice you have been given? To be honest, I am not sure that I have been wise enough to listen to advice. However, if anyone had ever said to me to always enjoy learning and to be curious about the world, that's the advice I would have followed; summed up by William Blake's: "To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour."   What is your favourite holiday spot? The islands of Scotland with the weather good enough to climb, sea kayak and wildlife watch. Wed, 16 Oct 2013 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women Interview: Alyson Smith Name:  Alyson SmithJob title:  Project coordinator at Lochaber Hope   Tell us a bit about your role:   I run a life skills and personal development charity in Lochaber, we provide Counselling, Mentoring, Personal Development and Employability support to the community.   Relationship to W@W e.g. Advisory group member, Network work member:- I did a W@W returners course in 2000 and the following year I was delivering W@W courses myself,  I have been a follower and champion of W@W since then and adore the work being done.   Hobby:- reading, scrabble, jigsaws, family, watercolour painting but need lots of time for that, oh and wine, but not all together at the same time, that wouldn't do at all!   What would you tell your 16 year old self? There's time! if you don't know what you want to do yet, you don't have to make lifetime decisions right now, explore your options and choices. Do work though, that's important to build you and your skills.   What was your first Job? I worked as a part time waitress in a store restaurant while I went to catering college, was good, I met my husband there.   What Woman/Women have inspired you? I think singers who have shared a bit of themselves and inspired others through their music, I think all women should share a bit about ourselves, I always remember Helen Reddy singing 'I am Women' I used to help her sing the car..alone..ehm   What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women?  Equality.., but I believe this would make a difference to everyone, no-one should have to strive or fight to prove themselves, we are a united people but all are individual and deserve to have autonomy within this.   Who would be your ideal dinner guests? The friends I have round about me in my life right now, they can balance listening and sharing, they have no expectations of me, nor I of them, just to be friends and laugh and cry together.   What is the best advice you have been given? Oh that's hard, I've had a lot of good people round about me and good advice,  I think when something is said from the heart it touches me most.  If I had to choose right now it would have to be three things. "If you get yourself into a mess, you have to get yourself out of it" and "Get to know Jesus better" and "Try to see things from the other person's perspective"   What is your favourite holiday spot? I love caravanning, it doesn't really matter where, I don't mind the weather sun or rain, I like to take things day by day and not plan too much on holiday. Wed, 18 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women Interview: Janet Robertson Name:   Janet RobertsonJob Title:  Chair of WEA Inverness Local Association and member of the Inverness International Women's GroupWhat would you tell your 16 year old self?To make sure I got a good education.What was your first job?William St. Clair Wilson's where I spent 6 years training to become a printer/bookbinderWhat woman/women have inspired you?Florence Nightingale and all the women who campaigned for our right to vote.What one change do you believbe would make the biggest difference to the life of women?Remove the barriers and recieve support when they apply for good jobs that were previously considered "men's jobs".Who would be your ideal dinner guests?Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Florence Nightingale, President ObamaWhat is the best advice you have been given?Always look at others before you start to complain about your own circumstances.  There's always people worse off than yourself.Favourite holiday spot?Tenerife and I also love Scotland.  I used to go all over Scotland fishing with my late husband. Wed, 7 Aug 2013 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Interview: Diane MacDowall Name:- Diane MacDowallJob title:- Speaker, Coach, Relationship Coach, Workshop LeaderYour role:- I help people step through their fears, embrace their confidence and purpose, learn to love who they are, and enjoy a fulfilling relationship.Hobby:- Playing the piano, painting, reading, walking. 1. What would you tell your 16 year old self? Probably to calm down. I'm not sure why, but I had no fear when I was in my teens. I was raised to believe that life is an adventure and that anything I set my mind to is achievable. So I had a fantastic adventure, but I did take risks then that I wouldn't take now. The type of risk I take now is far different, and more about stepping out of my comfort zone and expanding my learning and growth. Back then I was just fearless... I didn't do anything bad or reckless, I just didn't consider any possible danger. Now I know better. 2. What was your first Job?My first role was a live-in hotel receptionist at the Hotel Russell, London. I loved the buzz of meeting new people, the thrill of living in London as a 17 year old, and co-ordinating the reception desk. I met some interesting people, including the Two Ronnies, Ernie Wise, and one man who kept buying all the staff copious amounts of Pepsi and was then arrested for using a fraudulent credit card! 3. What Woman/Women have inspired you?My Mum has always inspired me greatly. She raised 5 children and travelled the world with my Dad. She became a full-time carer to two 20 years ago, and overcame cancer twice during that time. She achieved her life-long dream of having her first book published at the age of 75. She went on to have another 2 published and is now writing her 4th book entitled ‘Now that I'm 80'. Susan Jeffers, author of ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway®' - I was so inspired by her work that I went on to become her first tutor worldwide. 4. What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women? For women to realise that when a woman loves and embraces the best of who she is, she has the power to bring out the very best in everyone around her. I don't think many women have an inkling of just how incredible they are. A woman on purpose, and in love with life, can change a nation. 5. Who would be your ideal dinner guests?Audrey Hepburn - a kind, soft, gentle and giving lady.Susan Jeffers - author . I have been lucky enough to share dinner with Susan and her husband, and it was an incredible 4 hours.David Attenborough - he's been everywhere, seen everything!Howard Carter - I would love to chat with him about the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb.Chopin - a quiet man, but a genius.Susan Cain - a woman who is teaching the world that introversion is ok.Brene Brown - who teaches about how vulnerability can come from one of two places - shame or courage.I could talk to them all for hours! 6. What is the best advice you have been given?That what others think of me is none of my business; I really, truly understand why this concept is so necessary to a happy life. It allows us to relax and accept others as they are without taking our differences personally. That to never make mistakes means we're failing by default, because we're only taking risks within our comfort zone. 7. Favourite holiday spot?Well, having just returned to Inverness after 5 years away, I have to say that this is without doubt my favourite place on earth. So I still feel like I am on holiday here. Thu, 20 Jun 2013 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women Interview - June Crombie Job title:-  Business Unit Manager   Tell us a bit about your role:- I manage a recruitment business within the Global Energy Group, Global Highland – a traditional recruitment business, servicing candidates and clients in the Highlands & Islands, providing job opportunities for work seekers and recruitment services to employers.    Relationship to W@W e.g. Advisory group member – hope to add value to the organisation and give opportunities to women to get back into the workplace, perhaps after a career break.    Hobby:-  going to the gym.   1.     What would you tell your 16 year old self?  Take exams more seriously and never mind about the boys!!!     2.     What was your first Job?  Saturday job – bakery assistant.     3.     What Woman/Women have inspired you?  Margaret Thatcher     4.     What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women?  Being treated as equals with regards pay especially.     5.     Who would be your ideal dinner guests?  Nelson Mandella, Billy Connelly, Ranulph Fiennes and Sir Chris Hoy.    6.     What is the best advice you have been given?  Don’t take other people’s troubles on board, use a mirror to reflect back – try and not take on people’s worries/problems, but still offer support.    7.     Favourite holiday spot? Dubai Wed, 15 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women Interview - Jayne Stuart Inspirational interview  Name:- Jayne Stuart Job title:- Director, WEA Scotland Tell us a bit about your role:- As Director, I am responsible for formulating and implementing the overall strategy for WEA Scotland, an important component of which is drawing up and updating annually our three year rolling plan and agreeing outcomes in consultation with the WEA Scotland Committee.  My responsibilities include WEA policy, legal compliance, heading WEA Scotland's internal structures and overall responsibility for the delivery and reporting of the WEA's adult education provision across Scotland.   Currently there are c.10,000 enrolments and an annual turnover of c£2.5m.   Income generation, often by competitive tender and bidding to funding bodies, is a crucial element of successful performance, requiring my hands-on involvement.   Achieving results is hugely dependent on retaining and nurturing the goodwill of our extensive network of stakeholders, including volunteers, practitioners and the student body spread widely throughout the country and operating successfully in both rural and urban settings. I am also a contributing member of the WEA's senior management team led by the Chief Executive and with an appropriate, specific portfolio responsibility across the overall Association. Relationship to W@W e.g. Advisory group member, Network work member:- W@W is a WEA Scotland project. Hobby:- walking (especially in the Highlands), cooking (and eating good food), music and reading. What would you tell your 16 year old self?  Be confident about following your dreams and don't let anyone hold you back. What was your first Job?  Working at the local stables. I love horses, and as a teenager was passionate about riding. I worked from 8am till 6pm Saturdays and Sundays for £3 per day! All the money I earned went into horses - I think the stable owner got a pretty good deal. What Woman/Women have inspired you?   In my work and personal life I have met so many amazing women who are absolutely inspiring. Often they are women who are working hard, achieving amazing things, and juggling family and home responsibilities.  Sometimes they are addressing difficulties and overcoming personal challenges. What strikes me is with all that going on, they still manage to be caring, kind, compassionate and committed - genuine unsung heroines! What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women?   Achieving full gender equality in the workplace would make an enormous difference for women. In particular I think women could be empowered by achieving parity of earned income and increased financial independence, as well as rebalancing parental / maternal rights. Who would be your ideal dinner guests?   Hilary Devey - I loved her recent 'Women at the Top' programme, Sarah Brown - I really admire her charity campaigning work for women's education, Kevin McKidd - Elgin man now Hollywood star and supporting Speyside Sessions folk charity album, Daniel Craig as Bond and Andrew Marr as the real intellect. With me that would make 3 men and 3 women - gender balanced for the perfect dinner party. What is the best advice you have been given? Face difficult things today - don't put them off, they just get worse. Favourite holiday spot? Scottish Highlands or French Alps - depending on time of year and whether its midge season.  Tue, 27 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women Interview: Ann MacInnes Name:-  Ann MacInnesJob title:-  Retired: Researcher, University Lecturer (Jamaica), Open University Tutor/Counsellor and WEA Tutor.Tell us a bit about your role:- Relationship to W@W e.g. Advisory group memberNetwork work member:-  I'm a member of the WEA Inverness Local Association Committee.   Hobby:- reading 1.     What would you tell your 16 year old self?  Don't underestimate yourself  2.     What was your first Job? The scholarship which enabled me to go to university (in Edinburgh) only covered my tuition fees so I covered my living expenses whilst I was a student by working during each vacation in jobs which included food and accommodation.  The first of these jobs was as a kitchen maid [at a holiday centre near Otterburn where one of my main tasks was to fill and empty one of the early industrial dishwashers - a very large, steamy and noisy machine, taller than me and the length of a room.]  Subsequently I was a chambermaid in a convalescence centre [run by the Transport and General Workers' Union] and then moved on to waitressing in hotels and restaurants which was more lucrative since I could add to my wages through tips.   These jobs were an important part of my education since I learnt a great deal about British society of the late 1950's/early '60s from the people I worked with, people I would not have got to know otherwise.  Most of them were very tolerant of an inexperienced young incomer from the colonies who needed to be shown how to do the work involved in each of these jobs.  3.     What Woman/Women have inspired you? Barbara Castle, a feisty woman if ever there was one!   Mary Seacole (1805 - 1881), a pioneering Jamaican nurse who became a heroine of the Crimean War, her reputation rivaling that of Florence Nightingale.  Her father was a Scottish army officer and her mother a free black woman living in Kingston.  Her nursing skills were learned from her mother, a healer who used traditional Caribbean and African herbal remedies to treat disabled European soldiers and sailors, often suffering from the endemic yellow fever.   4.     What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women?  Equal pay  5.     Who would be your ideal dinner guests? Friends made in the different parts of the world I've lived in but now seldom seen - in Jamaica, Bahamas, Canada, Australia, USA. Comparing notes as to how things have changed in these countries for today's youngsters - especially our daughters - would make for an interesting conversation...  6.     What is the best advice you have been given?  Advice I gave myself - ironing is a fool's game!  7.     Favourite holiday spot?                      Any tropical beach which is not part of a tourist development. Wed, 14 Nov 2012 00:00:00 GMT Inspirational Women Interview: Sue Mitchell We are surrounded by inspirational women and we plan to share some of their stories through this section of the website. Sue Mitchell is the first to be interviewed. Inspirational Women Interview  Name: - Sue MitchellJob title: - WEA Highland Manager (It’s actually Area Tutor Organiser –but that doesn’t mean anything to anyone!)  Tell us a bit about your role:- Think about a circus tent-setting it up - and that includes  lighting, seating, equipment; then attracting an audience through word of mouth, advertising, fliers, key contacts ; ensuring that the various acts arrive and that the audience  is engaged , inspired and wants to go on to do more - at that precise moment…  a lion escaped from a nearby zoo enters…  Multi tasking doesn’t do it justice but multi team does.  I couldn’t possibly do my job without a fantastic team of tutors, admin and finance staff, co-ordinators and of course learners.  Relationship to W@W e.g. Advisory group member, Network work member: - Member of the advisory group as a staff member for WEA  Hobby:- Wild swimming before it became fashionable. I learned to swim in the sea when I was 8 years old.What would you tell your 16 year old self?    Worry less about the “right” decision - just go for trying things out and experimenting.What was your first Job?   My Saturday job when I was still at school was as an assistant to the ballet school teacherWhat Woman/Women have inspired you? So many to choose from - but closer to home I still think that my mother is significant in her creative endeavours - now a mere 94. She has recently informed me that I shall have to sleep in the loft when I next visit as the spare room is full of her art materials and takes up all the free space!What one change do you believe would make the biggest difference to the life of women? This is a tricky one to answer as needs to differ and change- but equal pay for equal work has to up there. Affordable housing in travel to work location (Ok Sue, I’ll let you off with 2 changes C.F)Who would be your ideal dinner guests? I’d invite 5 –all of different nationalities, who would have to have made a journey to reach me - interested in music, books, the outdoors, politics, good food and wine - you want names?  My friends of course!What is the best advice you have been given? When things have been fraught   “Graveyards are full of indispensable people”Favourite holiday spot? Now that would mean it might be mobbed- In North West Scotland, down a single track road –with a wonderful beach surrounded by hills and sea    Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 GMT Glasgow Women’s Library will go East for the weekend of 19th and 20th May May is another busy month at the library with lots going on. Glasgow Women’s Library will go East for the weekend of 19th and 20th May in celebration of the Festival of Museums. We will be at Bridgeton Library, in the heart of the East End, from 10am on Saturday 19th May and we would love you to join us, wherever you’re from, for a day of fun and activities, including Badge-making, Oral Histories workshop, Pop-up treasure trove and The Big Women's Quiz. If you are based in or visiting Edinburgh this week we have organised an exciting series of exhibitions celebrating the lives and achievements of women in partnership with Edinburgh City Libraries and the Bonnie Fechters from Tuesday 1st to Saturday 12th May at Edinburgh Central Library, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Fri, 11 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT Highland Celebration of Learning 2012 Highland Celebration of Learning 201211 am Opening by Douglas Wilby Head of Performance, HLH 11.15 am Lively introductionwith Margot Henderson, Reader in Residence, Highland Libraries12 noon …and now the good news – Life, Learning and the Feel Good FactorA Wow! Workshop with Margot Henderson. Dare to be there! You won’t want to miss it!1 pm Demonstration by Lead about using Adobe Connect for learning.1 pm – 2 pm Light refreshments2 pm Make it up!An exciting hands-on craft and words workshop with the WEA.3 pm "Get digital with Highland Libraries" Hands on session including e-readers and i-pads. Come and try! No previous knowledge or experience of computers necessary.4 pm Learners at the ready!Run by a group of learners who have been working with HLH Adult Learning. What can we do to enable more people to benefit from learning? 5 pm The sky’s the limit!Summing up of the day with Margot Henderson.5.30 pm – 6 pm Light refreshments6.30 pm Award Presentation"Every picture tells a story" Writing Competition – prizes presented by Cynthia RogersonPrizewinning AuthorLearner awardsfor commitment to learningTutor Awardsfor contribution to learningFor more information on this event please contact:Mary RhindAdult Literacies CoordinatorHigh Life HighlandHighland Adult Literacies PartnershipLibrary Support Unit31A Harbour RoadInvernessIV1 1UAtel 01463 251276email Fri, 11 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT Men earn 10 per cent more From the Inverness Courier   The pay gap between men and women remains above 10 per cent, with an average of 370 women losing their jobs each day in Scotland. The grim statistics were revealed at the recent Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) Women@Work conference in Inverness, which heard more needed to be done to help women, including flexible working patterns, properly funded childcare and an equal wage. The WEA works to improve learning in the community and workplace and its Highlands manager Sue Mitchell said equal pay was an issue across Scotland , including in the region, where she acknowledged there were a lot of women in jobs where their level of skill did not match their role. “We have an over-representation of women in administrative or clerical jobs with higher levels of qualifications that outstrip the roles that they are in,” she said. Nationally, there continues to be a pay gap over 10 per cent between men and women and in Scotland the number of women’s jobs lost between October and December last year was an average of 370 each day. “I think the impact of cuts in local authorities where we have a large workforce of women is impacting particularly”. She added transport and an ageing population was also a facto locally. “Flexibility of working patterns is one of the biggest issues that need to be addressed, and just ensuring there is proper joined up government thinking on this.” The conference took place at Highland Council’s headquarters and was attended by more than 60 delegates, with topics including economics, women and worth.  Speakers included Kathryn Busby, co-director of the Equality Trust, Ailsa McKay, professor of economics at Glasgow Caledonian University, Emma Ritch, from Close the Gap, and Claire Logie, strategic director of Independent Women. Wed, 9 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT Employability rises to the top of Alex Salmond's "To do List" First Minister announces women's job summit 24/04/2012 Helping more women into work is a top priority if Scotland’s economy is to grow faster, Alex Salmond told an audience of trade union members today. Addressing the annual STUC Congress in Inverness, the First Minister said the Scottish Government will lead the way by holding the country’s first Women’s Employment Summit later this year.  Building on the success of the special National Economic Forum on youth employment, held earlier this year, the summit will bring the public, private and voluntary sectors together to help more women back into work. Mr Salmond also highlighted the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting growth by investing in infrastructure – despite a 30 per cent cut in Scotland’s capital budget over the Spending Review – and its promotion of a social wage. He also revealed that 26,427 modern apprenticeships were delivered last year, against the annual target of at least 25,000 and 60 per cent more than in 2007. The First Minister said: “Jobs are this government’s top priority and that’s a value we share with the STUC. Last week’s employment statistics showed that Scotland had the biggest fall in unemployment in over a year and now has lower unemployment, higher employment and lower economic inactivity than the UK as a whole.  But there is still much more to do, and one of the most pressing issues that we must tackle is unemployment among women who have not shared in that recent job success. “This is critically important not just for Scotland’s economy but for families up and down the country, which is why – together with the STUC, who first proposed this approach – we will hold a summit within the next few weeks bringing together the public, private and voluntary sectors. We have already begun work with the STUC on a number of issues, including how to attract more women into manufacturing, and we had detailed discussions on women’s employment at our bi-annual meeting with the STUC General Council in February. “We cannot and should not allow a position where the talents and abilities of the majority of the population are under-utilised. We should not tolerate it as a country and cannot afford it as a society.  The women’s employment summit aims to focus all of our efforts on helping create more jobs and helping more women find jobs.  I am committed to doing what we can to help families through tough economic times and this is an important step towards that.” Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said: “The STUC is seriously concerned about the rapid increase in women’s unemployment in Scotland. Over the past year, women’s ILO unemployment has increased by over 19 per cent while male unemployment has actually declined.  The STUC warmly welcomes the First Minister’s announcement today that the Scottish Government will soon hold Scotland’s first Women’s Employment Summit. It is essential that Government works together with all stakeholders to analyse the factors leading to rising women’s unemployment and how these can be effectively addressed. The STUC looks forward to working constructively with the Scottish Government on this key issue over the coming months”. The First Minister added: “Last month I announced that we had delivered more than 25,000 modern apprenticeships during the previous twelve months – every one of which is linked to a real employment opportunity. I can tell this Congress that the final figure for Modern Apprenticeships for last year was 26,427 and that the completion rate has increased again to a record 75 per cent. “In a welcome change which will be important for the future, the number of predominantly young women entering apprenticeships has increased since 2008/9 from 27 per cent to 43 per cent in 2011/12, with a record 11,381 starting over the last 12 months.” Wed, 2 May 2012 00:00:00 GMT Voices of Women in Rural Scotland The Scottish Women's Convention have recently published 'Voices of Women in Rural Scotland'. The comprehensive report is organisaed around the key themes of education, helath and wellbeing, housing, local services and transport and travel.The SWC state, "Women throughout Scotland have undoubtedly benefitted from measures introduced by Scottish administrations since devolution.".But they also go on to say. "Women still struggle to enter into education and employment due to a lack of accessible, affordable childcare and extremely limited public transport. Education and employment opportunities are often gender streamed, with women entering into low paid, low skilled professions. Access to ‘non-traditional' roles is discouraged or simply not discussed ".The problem of economic cutbacks  and a "raft of cuts to the public sector by the UK Coalition Government are particularly striking rural women ".They conclude, "It is vital that the Scottish Government listens to the voices of women in Scotland. Issues are often more acute or exacerbated for women in remote, rural and super sparse areas of Scotland. Policy decisions must be made with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of all women throughout the country". Wed, 29 Feb 2012 00:00:00 GMT A Superhero for Scotland This short film made by Engender explains what CEDAW is and why women in Scotland should know about it. CEDAW (Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women) is a bill of human rights for women introduced by the United Nation.  The UN recognises that throughout the world women have less power and opportunity experience more violence and responsibility than men.  In times of economic austerity women pay the price of cuts and Engender's film calls on women of the world to take part in CEDAW consultations in their area.  CEDAW is the film's eponymous 'Superhero for Scotland' seeking out inequality and sharing out power among women. The film calls on all women to give evidence about their experience of gender inequality.  Watch the film the film on YouTube (2.10)Women@Work also provide a guide to CEDAW for you to download. Fri, 10 Feb 2012 00:00:00 GMT Margaret Thatcher: a feminist icon? From The Guardian, 6 January 2012 Natasha Walter, writer and campaigner Thirteen years ago, in The New Feminism, I wrote: "Let's start withMargaret Thatcher. No British woman this century can come close to her achievements in grasping power. Someone of the wrong sex and the wrong class broke through what looked like invincible barriers to reach into the heart of the establishment. Women who complain that Margaret Thatcher was not a feminist because she didn't help other women or openly acknowledge her debt to feminism have a point, but they are also missing something vital. She normalised female success. She showed that although female power and masculine power may have different languages, different metaphors, different gestures, different traditions, different ways of being glamorous or nasty, they are equally strong, equally valid … No one can ever question whether women are capable of single-minded vigour, of efficient leadership, after Margeret Thatcher. She is the great unsung heroine of British feminism." Nothing I have ever written before or since has brought so much fury on my head. It was unacceptable then, as it seems to be now, for feminists to do anything but denounce Thatcher. Obviously Thatcher was no feminist: she had no interest in social equality, she knew nothing of female solidarity. I knew that then as I know it now; by the time I left school I was a veteran of protests that resounded to the chant of Maggie Maggie Maggie Out Out Out. We should never forget her destructive policies or sanitise her corrosive legacy. But nor should we deny the fact that as the outsider who pushed her way inside, as the woman in a man's world, she was a towering rebuke to those who believe women are unsuited to the pursuit and enjoyment of power. Girls who grew up when she was running the country were able to imagine leadership as a female quality in a way that girls today struggle to do. And for that reason she is still a figure that feminists would be unwise to dismiss. Tacita Dean, artist Margaret Thatcher dominated my school and student years and had a big impact on my political coming of age, but not in the way she would have welcomed. I know she is being ennobled now by the gentle gaze of history (and Hollywood) but I remember loathing her at the time and feeling no solidarity with her achievements as a woman. I was an active student feminist and, if anything, she was our anti-feminist icon – everything we didn't aspire to. She was a reactionary who cared little for equality of any sort and who had a contemptuous indifference to the arts. Linda Grant, author Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party at the height of the women's movement, yet she was completely apart from our campaigns, our passions and our identity. She was the middle-aged woman with the hats, the pearls, the teeth, the strangled high-pitched voice, and the policies which had nothing to do with equal pay for work of equal value, free abortion on demand or take back the night marches. Her freedom to run for office depended on the traditional accoutrements of a wealthy husband and getting the work of having two children out of the way in one pregnancy. Thatcher's premiership was a wrong, contradictory note for feminism; we regarded her as a man dressed up in a skirt suit. Or a woman who used the traditional weapons of sex and flirting to get what and where she wanted. Perhaps she was ahead of her time and it needed Camille Paglia to understand her: she was one in a long line of powerful femme fatales like the Borgias or certain wives of Roman emperors who fused power with sex. Madonna in Downing Street. But more prosaically, as much as feminists hated her because she had no solidarity with us, or with women for that matter – she was sui generis, for herself and of herself – there is no question that she was a role model. In the same way that after Obama it could no longer be said that America was so racist it would never elect a black president, Thatcher in Downing Street sent out a straightforward message to women that anything was possible. The problem remains though that she was so completely unusual that no woman politician since has been remotely like her. I can't think of anyone who, like Thatcher, is twice the man and twice the woman of any other MP.If she was representative of anyone, it wasn't women but a group emerging in the early 80s who rejected class solidarity, knowing their place, and aspired instead: to home ownership, foreign holidays, private education, self-employment, and there were many women among them. She did a great deal to smash the ideas of class that prevailed in the 70s, but smash patriarchy? No. Mary Beard, classics professor, Cambridge Well, she wasn't a feminist, nor will she ever be a "feminist icon" in my sense of the word. But we can't deny that having our first woman prime minister was a major symbolic leap forward. And it's salutary for those of us on the left to be reminded that positive social change does sometime come from the right. Laura Sandys, Conservative MP for South Thanet Mrs Thatcher is a much more of an icon as a matriarch than as a feminist campaigner. Her political power was never expressed in terms of battling against the male establishment, but as a political personality who dominated the masculine, clubby power structures that she inherited. Once at the helm, her status as the matriarch could never be questioned. That kept her very safe – safe until the children were no longer interested in doing what Mother says. I don't think that she had time to consider intellectual feminism but she did and still does represent an interesting trait of female activism that we are living with today. Her political language was focused on women. Owning your own home, setting the household budget, choosing the best school for your child – these messages were framed and delivered by a woman to encourage other women to take the choices that they needed to take for their families. Women were given a new level of political importance and one that has not been lost by subsequent leaders. So, a feminist matriarch but not a feminist icon. Bidisha, author Margaret Thatcher is no icon of feminism, freedom, fairness or fashion. She is unique in British history as a pioneering woman prime minister. She has charisma. She has the courage of her convictions. She is a survivor, which most politicians are not. But she ain't no sister. She likes what macho, sexist, patriarchal men have always liked: war, the defence of the status quo, established power, entrenched inequality, heavily rigged individualist competition and absolute freedom. Not freedom as in emancipation, but the greedy savagery of an unregulated market in which man eats man and woman is neither seen nor heard. Thatcher was a man-worshipper who couldn't bear the stink of even one woman poisoning her cabinet. She has never said or done anything to help other women. She did nothing (actively) to change the cultural misogyny of British politics, as evidenced by our present virtually all-male, woman-bashing government and by the way women in public life are mocked, patronised, marginalised, drastically under-represented and subjected to severe double standards both within politics and by the media. A feminist icon is woman-positive and woman-identified. She openly fights machismo and misogyny. On rape, domestic violence, childcare, benefits for single mothers, discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual inequality, Thatcher did nothing.Her stiff serge tailoring, boxy croc handbags, patent court shoes, pussycat bow blouses and set hair have been fetishised by a moronic, apolitical fashion industry. But feminist iconhood has nothing to do with looks, because it is sexist to rate women by our appearance rather than our words and actions, as we are not objects. That said, Thatcher was no worse than many of the men before her, or since, or now. It disturbs me that she is held up and bashed with especial hatred, base insults and grotesque mockery while male public figures far more loathsome are treated more respectfully. Thatcher's political legacy has been used as an excuse to justify the misogynist backlash against female leadership. Ami Sedghi, journalist Championed during the 90s as the "original Spice Girl" by the eponymous girl band, the Iron Lady has been depicted as a strong female icon for my generation. I'm 24. I confess that my knowledge of her politics, gleaned from disapproving parental murmurs, snatched comments and television dramas, is limited. But for me Thatcher is remembered predominantly as the first female to become prime minister. Hannah Pool, writer Time may be a great healer but the idea of Thatcher as a feminist icon is as laughable as it is insulting to all those other great women who have fought tirelessly for equal rights. Even if we forget all the hideous things she did – the miners, the crushing of the unions, her stance against South African sanctions – that the woman who reportedly claimed she owed nothing to the women's liberation movement is now being restyled as a feminist shows how little people understand what feminism is about. The overriding principle of feminism is equality, and those with power helping raise the bar for those without. This is the exact opposite of Thatcher's "me, me, me" Conservatism. Michele Hanson, columnist She rose to the top, despite being a woman, so that was an achievement of sorts, but Thatcher set feminism back by setting such a bad example of a woman in power. She's up there with designer vaginas and the pussycat dolls – a cynical bastardisation of what the real fight for women's equality is about. What an odd woman Margaret Thatcher was. She blubbed over her beloved dead father, but barely mentioned her mother. She adored her son, but didn't seem to care much for her daughter. And where were the women in her cabinet? Only one managed to get in, briefly. Margaret seemed to prefer men, especially handsome ones like Cecil Parkinson, or others with whom she could flirt vaguely, or boss about. Because she couldn't have positive discrimination, could she? She wanted women in on merit. But don't tell me she couldn't find any women up to the job. There are several dozen in my immediate neighbourhood. "What a deeply irritating person she was," says my friend Rosemary, "forever running home early to cook dinner for Dennis. Did you see her in her pinny at the sink?" Yes, we all did. Thatcher made sure of that. Icon? Do me a favour. She could have been. The grocer's daughter who fought her way up to the top job. But what did she do to help other less fortunate women when she got up there? Even on the way up she'd taken their kiddies' milk away. Then she took away much of their affordable housing by egging everyone on to buy council houses. She privatised the utilities, and up went the household bills, and she crushed the unions. The miners' wives didn't have much to thank her for. And just to show that women can do anything men can do, she started a war, rode around on a tank in her headscarf, created loads more widows, thought herself terrifically grand and used the royal plural for her very own. What a wasted opportunity. From the great heights she looked down and thought not "How can I raise up other women?" but only "How can I poop on the poorer ones?" All she had really done was turn herself into a joke version of a pig-headed man. Feminist icon? No.     Fri, 6 Jan 2012 00:00:00 GMT Young women are now earning more than men – that's not sexist, just fair From Gaby Hinsliff, The Observer, 27 November 2011.It is not often, in these dark times, that one stumbles across a snippet of good economic news. So it's strange that one such shaft of sunlight in the gloom has gone mostly unsung. According to official statistics released last week, the pay gap between men and women - that barometer of shifting power between the sexes - has quietly shrunk to a record low and among younger women has shot clearly into reverse. Women in their 20s now earn a solid 3.6% more on average than men their age, after narrowly overtaking them for the first time last year. The rise of the female breadwinner, it seems, was no blip, but the beginning perhaps of a social and sexual sea change.For an angry but vocal minority, that is a change too far, yet more proof that they are the underdogs now, trampled beneath the stilettos of supposedly over-mighty women. The conservative family policy expert Jill Kirby even suggested that "the pay gap we should be worrying about is the one that shows young men falling behind", not the one that still sees men earning more than women for every other decade of their working life.Losing ground is admittedly never easy, even if that ground wasn't always earned, as one glance at the Tory backbenches, boiling with resentment at young women being promoted over older male heads, confirms. The trouble with shattering the glass ceiling is that someone inevitably ends up ducking the flying fragments.But it's worth remembering that, barely a century ago, the great male fear was not of alpha females with intimidatingly large salaries but their polar opposite: women were seen, rather like immigrant labour now, as dangerously liable to undercut men's wages by doing the same work for less. Equal pay was sold not as a threat but, rather intriguingly, as a promise.As the then mayor of New York put it in 1911, explaining his decision to grant 14,000 female teachers the same salaries as men: "Instead of lessening the number of male teachers this will increase it" by removing the financial incentive to hire women. Even in 1946, the Royal Commission on Equal Pay set up in Britain argued that equality would mean women losing their jobs, since "at equal pay for men and women, a man will always be preferred". Why on earth would you hire a woman, unless she was going cheap?Half a century on, it seems incredibly mean-spirited not to allow young women at least a moment's triumph over proving such arguments wrong, before making them hang their heads in shame for the men they have left behind. But instead, the same reproachful message has been drummed into them since their teens, when they outstripped boys at GCSE and A-level only to face howls of protest about education being rigged in their favour.It's not that this argument was without any merit. Where boys are failing, schools should question what's happening in the classroom. It's just depressing that the debate so often contrived to make young girls' strengths - greater social confidence and maturity or a conscientiousness that makes them better at coursework - sound strangely like cheating, since these skills have turned out to be undeniably handy. After all, those same girls went on to beat boys at degree level, to form the majority of trainee barristers and solicitors and fast-track civil servants by the middle of the last decade. They're the same girls who, a graduate recruiter once told me, shone so much at interview that they left the boys standing. And they grew up into the same junior managers who, according to a recent survey for the Chartered Management Institute, now out-earn their male counterparts for the first time since 1974. Even if the pay gap between senior executives still yawns so wide that the CMI estimates it will take a century to close, they must have been doing something right.What is emerging now is a striking generational divide. The pay gap for full-time workers is biggest now for women in their 50s - those least likely to have been encouraged when young to pursue a career or hang on to one after children. But it narrows with every decade subtracted from a woman's age. Roughly speaking, as girls' horizons have widened and their skill sets swelled (only a quarter of girls went to university in the 1960s, for example, whereas by 1996 they outnumbered boys), their earning power has risen in tandem. Legislation, industrial action, a greater emphasis on traditionally "female" skills, such as communication, and sheer bloody-mindedness all helped. But one reason young women now get paid more than their mothers is simply that they're worth it, a basic fairness that matters more to a cohesive society than perhaps we used to think. After all, what fuels the festering anger at rocketing boardroom pay isn't just naked envy of the 4,000% increase in some top bosses' salaries over the past three decades, as the High Pay Commission reported, but a feeling that there's no rhyme nor reason to it. It's not as if their companies are thousands of times more profitable. And this breaking of the link between effort and reward is a profoundly unsettling thing: why strive to do your best if you get nothing while the undeserving merrily trouser their bonuses? Which is precisely how too many women have long felt about their male colleagues. It's easy to forget not just how stonkingly, grievously unfair things have been in the past, but also how tentative these female gains have been. Men who work full time still earn 9% more than women overall, hardly suggestive of being chucked on the scrapheap - any more than the existence of a measly five female cabinet ministers (outnumbered five to one by men) really spells matriarchy.We don't even know yet whether this is merely a case of tortoise and hare, with young women shooting off to a confident start only to find themselves overtaken the minute they pause to have babies. After all, men's earnings start to outstrip women's from the age of 29 - precisely when Mrs Average now has her first child.It's far from clear that this generation of golden girls can beat the so-called "motherhood penalty", either by managing hitherto unsuspected feats of juggling or by persuading some of their lower-paid husbands to take on more at home. But at a time when hopes of future wage growth for anyone seem few and far between, perhaps we could at least stop hounding them for trying. Sun, 27 Nov 2011 00:00:00 GMT Pay gap stagnant as women's unemployment continues to rise Anna Bird, Acting Chief Executive at the Fawcett Society said: "More than 40 years after the Dagenham machinists went on strike, in a move that triggered the Equal Pay Act, women can still expect to earn less than their male counterparts. "We have become used to slow, steady progress towards gender equality but today's figures are more evidence that progress is stalling. The average gap in pay is virtually unchanging, with the mean earnings gap stuck at 15 per cent. For every hundred pounds men take home, women on average take home around £85.(1) "The gender pay gap in the private sector is still significantly greater than in the public sector (2). With the government focus now on boosting enterprise and private sector growth, there is a real risk that the pay gap will widen in the years ahead unless there is concerted action to tackle pay inequality. "With a record number of women out of work - 1.09 million women are unemployed (3) - and a persistent, stagnant gap in pay between women and men, the government needs to take action. The Fawcett Society calls on government to publish a strategy for women's employment, that seeks to protect women's access to work and deliver equal pay and fair working terms and conditions. The government must also make headway with plans to broaden flexible working rights to all employees and reform parental leave as set out in the Modern Workplaces consultation, which will contribute to a more equal society." (1) ONS statistics found: Men's mean hourly earnings were £16.44, up 1.1 per cent from £16.27 in 2010. Women's mean hourly earnings increased by 1.8 per cent to £14.00 compared with £13.75 in 2010.This means that the gender pay difference has shifted slightly from 15.5 per cent in 2010 to 14.9 per cent in 2011. The Office for National Statistics prefers to use the median calculation of the gender pay gap, which neutralises the effect of having a small group of very highly paid male employees (CEOs in the private sector are overwhelmingly men) and a concentration of women in the lowest paid jobs (including school midday assistants - the ONS press release highlights the widening gap between these lowest paid and highest paid occupations). Fawcett uses the mean, because it allows the extreme pay levels at either end of the scale to be factored in. (2) The gap in the public sector stands at 13.2 per cent; in the private sector this stands at 20.4 per cent. These figures are ascertained using the following calculation: Public sector: [(Male full-time hourly pay excluding overtime of 18.22 per cent - female full-time hourly pay excluding overtime of 15.81) / male full-time hourly pay excluding overtime of 18.22 per cent] x 100 = 13.2 per cent. Private sector: [(Male full-time hourly pay excluding overtime of 15.92 per cent - female full-time hourly pay excluding overtime of 12.67) / male full-time hourly pay excluding overtime of 15.92 per cent] x 100 = 20.4 per cent.The full ONS report can be downloaded here.  Wed, 23 Nov 2011 00:00:00 GMT Don't Turn Back Time on Women's Equality! Ross-Shire Women's Aid are holding a tea party and we are all invited to go along.The event is in Dingwall on 19 November, 11-12.30, and is being held in support of the Fawcett Society  and their "Don't Turn Back Time" campaign. Don't miss out. This is an excellent opportunity to support two very good causes.  Fawcett state that on average, women earn less, own less, and are more likely to work and retire in poverty than men.The UK government's approach to cutting the deficit will widen the gap between women and men:-Female unemployment is rising as jobs are cut in public service-The benefits and services women rely on more are being slashed-Women on low incomes are becoming poorer-The pay gap looks set to widen-Women's access to vital support services is being undermined -Increasing numbers of women are being forced to give up work as cuts to childcare support means their jobs no longer cover the family's care costs"DON'T TURN BACK TIME ON WOMEN'S EQUALITY!" For more infomation on the RSW tea party in Dingwall contact Heather Williams at RWA Wed, 2 Nov 2011 00:00:00 GMT Rape - Who's to blame when a fabricated account of a rape trial is published in a newspaper? From Rape Crisis Scotland 14, Ocotber 2011.Scottish newspapers can be very powerful allies to campaigners against sexual violence. With audiences numbering millions daily, and an online archive available in perpetuity for later consultation, the accounts and opinions printed within their pages exert enormous influence in shaping public attitudes on every issue. And there can be few people who need support and for the truth to be told about their experiences more than rape complainers. Myths and prejudices that blame them for what happened and advance the notion that women frequently lie about having been raped are prevalent and extremely damaging both to their recovery from rape and to their chances of obtaining justice. The Evening Times and many other titles frequently publish accounts of sexual violence, and the difficulties survivors face after rape. These can sometimes really help to raise awareness and challenge the myths and misconceptions that survivors continue to face. A recent article in the Evening Times looked at first glance to be just such a piece, with a graphic account of a young woman’s assault and subsequent barbaric treatment at the hands of the legal system laid out in shocking detail. Subsequently, however, serious doubt has been attached to the veracity of this story, and the Evening Times today offered a “clarification” for the benefit of readers. In this clarification, the Evening Times apologies not for printing a fabricated account but for their failure to subject a woman’s “claims” of rape to “normal scrutiny or checks”. However this story came about – and its origins are very unclear – the Evening Times has perpetuated the myth that women can’t be trusted when they speak out about being raped.  And that’s the last thing anyone interested in justice for rape survivors needs. Fri, 14 Oct 2011 00:00:00 GMT Canoeing the Zambezi - Sutherland Networkers Face Lifetime Challenge In November 2012 Laurence O'Neill and Julia Campbell are setting off down the Zambezi to raise funds for Highland Hospice.They will spend four days canoeing the Zambezi River. The women face long days and a hot and challenging climate but feel that the effort will be worthwhile. Laurence O'Neill said, "Knowing we are helping such a worthwhile charity will help to keep us going."The pair will then spend three days working on a hospice project in Zambia and to help the locals of the area. Julia Campbell said,"We are really excited about being able to help Highland Hospice and also use our time to help another Hospice in Zambia. We would  be extremely grateful if any W@W networkers would like to sponsor us and help Highland Hospice."You can make a donation through JustGiving it is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving and they'll never sell them on or send you unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. Mon, 3 Oct 2011 00:00:00 GMT Wasp Waists and Anorexia Written by Valeria Marchetti from Ms.BlogThe cover of Vogue Italy's September issue-timed to appear during the Sept. 21-28 Italian fashion week-featured Stella Tennant, the striking 40-year-old super model and mother of three. She's wearing a posh dress and a nose ring. But it's not her clothing or her accessories or her arresting expression that stand out. It's her absurdly tiny waistline, measuring just 13 inches, cinching her roomy gown.Cases of anorexia and bulimia in Italy have been rising in recent years, according to an August 2011 study by Eurispes, an Italian statistical institute. It reported 3,500 new cases of anorexia during 2010 compared to an annual average of 3,000 in 2008. For bulimia, there were 6,000 cases in 2010 compared to 5,400 cases in 2008. Anorexia and bulimia were also the leading causes of death for young Italian women between 12 and 25 years old, Sisdca, the Italian society for eating disorders, found in a study published in June 2011."It is the worst way to attract readers with outrageous sensationalism," said Fabiola De Clercq, founder of ABA, Anorexia and Bulimia Association, an Italian association based in Milan that helps anorexic girls resume a healthy life. "This picture mortifies women's bodies."She said the common sense of Vogue Italy editors has been replaced by Photoshop, the software program widely used to enhance digital graphics."Anorexia is such a widespread psychological disorder because, nowadays, thinness corresponds to women's power," De Clercq, a survivor of 20 years of anorexia, said. "Exaggerated slimness is byword of a woman in total control over her life, someone who is even able to renounce a vital need: eating food. ... Vogue understood this deviant trend and showed it yet again."Dr. Raffaele Ruocco, the head of research on eating disorders at the University of Perugia, says that fashion's idealization of thinness is a major trigger of anorexia, and retouched images are often assumed to be real-life women.Vogue Italy has drawn criticism in the past for excessive retouching of models' photographs, but many of those controversial images also helped spur sales.Carlo Ducci, executive news director of the magazine, said he wasn't personally involved in determining the September cover, calling it stunning and harmless. He said Tennant's picture was inspired by Ethel Granger, an English woman who died in 1982 and was married to a corset maker. Her 13-inch waist was the smallest ever, according to the Guinness Book of World Records."Our magazine drew on reality. If this reality is perceived as bad, this is not our problem," Ducci said. He said the image was too unusual to inspire other women to try to imitate it.If one woman could achieve a 13-inch waistline, might not others be tempted to outdo her if a fashion magazine suggests that's desirable? Emulation is also suggested by the use of "avant-garde" as caption wording for the photograph of Tennant, aka Granger. Avant-garde, after all, means someone in the vanguard, or leading a trend.What do you think?Excerpted from Women's eNews. Sun, 2 Oct 2011 00:00:00 GMT