16 Days of Action: The UN campaign to end violence against women comes to Glasgow

01/12/2016
Nathanael Williams

Campaigners, MPs, and government ministers give support to international women’s right campaign 

AS PART of the United Nation’s 16 days of international activism against gender-based violence campaign, activists have gathered in Glasgow on its 25th anniversary to address ways to improve awareness and education about violence against women.

‘Making education equally safe for all: Working with young people to prevent gender-based violence’ which took place today [Thursday 1 December] at the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ) with the University of Strathclyde saw enthusiastic support from those in attendance and online.

The Scottish Government cabinet secretary for justice, Michael Matheson MSP, and SNP MP Alison Thewliss are supporting the global campaign and spoke at the conference on how to improve education and law in Scotland.

We look at the issues discussed at the event.

Equality and Safety in Higher Education

Anni Donaldson, CommonSpace’s award-winning columnist and a researcher of violence against women, attended the conference and spoke on the importance of Equally Safe in Higher Education (ESHE) which aims to eradicate gender-based violence in Higher Education. ESHE also trains students and staff on prevention of sexual assault.

Sexual violence on campuses

The last National Union of Students (NUS) survey found that one in seven women had experienced sexual abuse on university and college campuses during their time as students. Scottish Women's Aid (SWA) has recently teamed up with NUS Scotland to improve methods for women to be able to come forward in a safe environment in education.

Support for MPs on women in education

Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, attended, noting that it was important for women to feel safe, supported and emboldened in all areas of society. Thewliss is also involved in attempting to get the UK Government to scrap its infamous two child benefit rule also dubbed the "rape clause". Under current welfare requirements a woman has to "prove" her additional child was a result of sexual violence.

Classrooms and messaging

Groups such as Zero Tolerance, SWA, Rape Crisis Scotland and Engender have called for a serious look at the education of children younger than secondary age. They argue attitudes towards women which make violence endemic and tolerated in society are first digested in a child's formative years.

Scottish Government support

Matheson, justice secretary for the Scottish Government has stressed the government’s support for measures that will recognise coercive control in domestic abuse, pledged more resources to tackle sexual violence but conceded more had to be done given the rise in incidents of abuse from 2014 to 2016. 22,075 incidents of domestic abuse of women up to the age of 30 were recorded in 2015 to 2016 this represented an 8.9 per cent rise from 20,283 in 2014.

Picture courtesy of Alison Thewliss

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