I’m Amanda Amaeshi, a Young Spokesperson for Girlguiding Scotland and a Council Member of the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG).
In Phase One, NACWG created three sets of policy recommendations, using information collected from desk research and consultations, to advise the First Minister and the Scottish Government on what to do to make Scotland a gender-equal country. Now, in Phase Two, NACWG’s role is to hold the Government to account to ensure the recommendations are being fulfilled. NACWG is assessing whether there is coherence across Government on commitments to tackle gender inequality and whether women who experience multiple and compounding inequalities are being fully considered (this is referred to as intersectionality). I have been able to directly influence the process of policymaking through drafting questions for policy officials, reading and analysing their responses, and giving feedback both in written form and during in-person Accountability Events.
The work that NACWG does is vital for ensuring that intersectionality and the lived experiences of women in Scotland are meaningfully embedded into Government systems and frameworks. It is particularly important that NACWG’s work is grounded in the lived experiences of women who are disproportionately affected by policy because of multiple intersecting inequalities, yet are routinely excluded from policy development. We are able to do this through our Participation Panel, which consists of around 20 members (and even more women are involved through outreach, engagement and community research conducted by the Panel members). The Panel works together with NACWG to critique current policy and consider how it needs to be improved in order to make a real difference to their lives.
The theme for this year’s ’16 Days of Activism’ emphasises the importance of unity and investment in order to end violence against women and girls (VAWG). I believe these two concepts are evident in efforts to eliminate VAWG in Scotland. Many key groups within the Scottish feminist sector – including NACWG and the Participation Panel, and Girlguding Scotland – have been working collaboratively and are unified in advocating for the end of VAWG. And the Scottish Government is in the process of investing long-term measures to end VAWG through its policy and decision-making.
Ending VAWG is a cause for which I have campaigned for many years. Two years ago I represented Girlguiding at the 2021 Conservative Party Conference, where I stressed the importance of everybody – not just those directly affected by VAWG – playing their role in shifting a culture that is deeply rooted in misogyny. In order to make lasting progress on tackling this issue, we all need to be unified in supporting victims, and invest in taking tangible action (remembering that all approaches should be grounded in the values of intersectionality, serving the specific needs of each specific group of women).
’16 Days of Activism’ serves as a crucial reminder that this work is not simply of national importance, but international importance – VAWG, like many other societal issues, is a global issue, and thus requires global collaboration, unity, and investment. We must urgently take action, in order to ensure the protection of all women and girls in our global community.