This year’s event, entitled Women’s Matters: Everyday Action, brought together women from across Midlothian to talk about the issues that are important to them – and what ‘every day actions’ we can all take to help make our own communities a better place for women.
Our scheduled keynote speaker, Firefighter and Scottish Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Scotland Denise Christie, was sadly unable to join us – so I opened the event with a poem Denise likes to recite when she speaks; Stand Aside, Brother by Victoria Pearson.
I was followed by Mridul Wadhwa, Manager of the Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre, who spoke passionately about reforming the Gender Recognition Act, violence against women and rights for refugee women.
I hosted a lively panel discussion with guests including Mridul, award-winning musician Siobhan Wilson, disability activist Susan Archibald, academic Dr Emma Turley and trade union official Leah Franchetti. We spoke about the barriers that women face in 2019 in our every day lives, whether it be in the workplace, in social situations and even online. The contributions from participants on how we overcome these barriers was inspiring to hear.
After a chance to chat and network over a scrumptious afternoon tea, participants had a choice of three workshops to take part in. Women’s Enterprise Scotland hosted a workshop on women and enterprise; Engender Scotland hosted theirs on women and feminism; and Citizens Advice Scotland led their workshop on women, welfare and rights. I was bowled over by the energy and ideas that came from all three workshops!
We were very fortunate to have the incredibly talented Siobhan Wilson wrap up the day by playing a set from her new album The Departure, with songs of female empowerment and seeing the world through a women’s eyes. Thank you to everyone that made the day such a success – speakers and workshop hosts, venue and catering staff, my staff team and every single participant. I can’t wait to do it all again next year!
Danielle Rowley MP