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rosie the Rdownload

From the Lennox Herald 15 May 2015

I heard this week of the death of Mary Doyle aged 91 years, the woman who posed as Rosie the Riveter for Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting (not to be confused with WE CAN DO IT). The painting was on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in May 1943, and quickly became a symbol of the millions of women doing war work while men were at the front.   Last Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of VE Day and Mary’s death was a reminder that we are gradually losing members of an extraordinary generation of women who came of age during that second terrible world war.


The recent loss of the last of the women elders of my own and friends’ family has been hard.  Born in the 1920s, the decade when all women in Britain finally got the vote, these young lassies were not all riveters exactly.  Leaving school at fourteen many did go to work in factories in the west of Scotland.  It cannot have been much fun walking to work and back during the blackout. In these factories where they endured tough and unsafe working conditions, they still managed to play skipping ropes at lunchtime and sing all day long.  They maybe grew up with rationing and having to count your pennies before calling the doctor but they still got to go dancing four nights a week.

During the war my mother, my aunties and their pals, learned a great deal about being independent and by 1945 hopes were high for a better world.   They now knew about the power of collective action, they got political.  They joined trade unions and campaigned for equal pay, to improve working conditions, for better housing, for peace, for family planning; joined political parties, they had their own sport and hiking groups and choirs; they got active, they got singing.  Many married and their children got used to Mammy being out on a Tuesday night at her night class or the Guild or away on at a weekend school – they got educated. They also had social lives separate from their menfolk.  They were independent; they had style.

Women’s activism did not stop after getting the vote and the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s didn’t start something that new. No ma’am. The 1920s generation of working class women knew what to do with their vote, knew what poverty and inequality felt like and kept up the struggle – they also carried on dreaming. We remember VE day but let’s not forget the future the 1920s generation of women gave us, the future we now hold in our hands.

For Mary Donaldson, Annie MacKay, Pat Scott and Agnes Owens

RIP Sheila Stewart



If we were a’ sensible, there would be nae fools

Traveller’s Life – The Autobiography of Sheila Stewart

Published April 2011

Birlinn £9.99

Maybe this book is not like other people’s biographies.  But it has to be different…because a travellers’ life is different from anyone else’s.’   And so it is.  A Traveller’s Life by Sheila Stewart is a life’s story we should know about.  The joys, tensions and traditions of a member of one of Scotland’s best known Scottish Traveller families provides a welcome antidote to the negative press reports of Traveller conflicts with settled or ‘scaldie’ communities such as the long running Dale Farm dispute and of the extravagances displayed in Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.

Born in a stable in Blairgowrie ‘into a world of poems and stories and songs’, described as ‘the voice of Blairgowrie… a raven-haired beauty, envy of many traveller lassies and the…

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This article first published  @LennoxHerald 19 November 2014

November 25 marks the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and signals the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence ending on 10 December, Human Rights Day. This year the global campaign, which began in 1981, highlights the links between gender-based violence and militarism.

16 days

As its slogan ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Gender-Based Violence! ‘ shows, violence in everyday life and violence in war are two sides of the same coin. In a year which marks the centenary of the outbreak of   World War 1 this is apt.

The colour white is internationally recognised as the colour of peace. During the run up to this year’s remembrance ceremonies some people wore white poppies. The white poppy was first worn in 1933 by the Women’s Co-operative Guild movement who demonstrate their remembrance by pledging themselves to peace. Some wore only white poppies, others wore both white and red poppies.


In 1991 the 16 Days Campaign joined with the White Ribbon Campaign, first launched by a group of Canadian men, in adopting the white ribbon as a symbol of hope for a world where women and girls can live free from the fear and threat of sexual and intimate partner violence. The campaigns challenge the acceptability of all forms of violence against women – and show us that women and men can work together to help break the silence surrounding these forms of violence. While violence against women mainly targets women, children, young people and men are also affected.

Domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault are too common in Scotland and across the world. Police Scotland recently reported an 81% increase in reports of domestic rape, a 55% rise in reports of domestic stalking offences and 58,976 domestic abuse incidents last year – most victims were women. Police Scotland have just announced details of their annual festive campaign against domestic abuse and in June, the Scottish Government confirmed their continued commitment to the prevention and elimination of violence against women. The scale and nature of systematic child sexual exploitation Rotherham revealed in a recent report written by Alexis Jay, former Director of Social Work at West Dunbartonshire Council, has caused widespread concern. The Scottish Government recently launched its own national child sexual abuse strategy amid warnings that the problem here is likely to be widespread.

The links between inter-personal, intimate partner and international war and violence are clear. Scottish Women’s Aid, Zero Tolerance and White Ribbon Scotland will join campaigning groups and women’s activists on 25 November in marking the 16 Days across the country. Wear white for world peace, wear a white ribbon for an end to violence against women.

White ribbon

best article logo

by Anni Donaldson, 2013 “Best Article” Winner of the Write to End Violence Against Women Awards

It was a bit of a shock when I was told I had been nominated for Best Article in the first Write to End VAW Awards in 2013. Writing about violence against women seemed like a natural extension of my VAW development work with West Dunbartonshire Council and my academic work in the School of Social Work and Social Policy, CELCIS and the Scottish Oral History Centre at Strathclyde University. I had always felt that the general media coverage was not really dealing with the issues in the way that so many of us working in the field understood it.

The gap between women’s experiences of gender-based violence and public awareness seemed very wide and I wondered if I could do something to address this by writing for a general audience. The Scottish Review and Bella Caledonia accepted some of my early attempts but it was the high profile Bill Walker case which really incensed me. My article about Walker, his conviction and the limitations of Scots law in prosecuting abusers like him proved a winner with last year’s judges and I could not have been more surprised or pleased. The award, granted by a panel of experts from both the VAW field and from journalism, proved to be a tremendous boost to both my journalism and, I hope, to public awareness.

My employer found out and was very keen to publicise my success. Coverage in the staff newspaper Talk led to the local press getting a hold of the story; I was invited to write a monthly column in the Lennox Herald. Called ‘A Woman’s Place’, I have carte blanche and since January this year, have covered a violence against women topics in the news and women’s equality from a local and national perspective. Commissions have followed from print and online publications including The Conversation, Scottish Justice Matters, The Daily Record, Cambelltown Courier, The Herald, The Scottish Review of Books and Scottish Islands Explorer (I branched out to travel writing there). I have become more involved in blogging with my own site Glasgow Anni and have blogged for WithScotland’s TalkWith, Scottish Women’s Aid’s Together We can Stop It, Zero Tolerance.

The media have always been a key player in shaping public attitudes to all forms of violence against women – not all of it positive. Zero Tolerance are to be congratulated for their part in the Write to End VAW Awards and for publishing excellent guidance promoting responsible journalism. The work is still needed sadly as domestic abuse cases, sexual abuse disclosures and high profile perpetrators continue to dominate media platforms.  A great deal of reporting remains voyeuristic and exploitative with victims and survivors’ voices screaming to be heard above the clamour often focussed on the male perpetrators and public sympathy for them. Recent critiques of coverage of the trial of Reeva Steenkamp’s killer and the Ched Evans rape case show what we are still up against. Similarly, revelations of high profile celebrity child sexual abuse predators, the systematic and almost industrial scale sexual exploitation of children and young people by large numbers of men in Rotherham, Oxford and Rochdale all require our continued vigilance in challenging inadequate reporting, biased journalism and in promoting an ethical alternative.

Scotland has come a very long way since those first Zero Tolerance posters drew the public’s attention to domestic abuse. However we still have a long way to go to create a society where everyone finds all forms of violence against women intolerable and says so. Challenging media portrayals is a key part of the work to be done in Scotland and across the world. I hope other countries will follow the example of the Write to End VAW Awards. I feel privileged to be part of this new and exciting part of the journey. I congratulate all of this year’s nominees; win or lose, your writing is important.

Tender Savagery

This is the text of the Obituary, about Agnes Owens, written by her good friend James Kelman in the Herald Friday 24th October 2014
Agnes Owens – Writer
Born: May 1926;
Died: October 2014

AGNES OWENS had a strength I see as a female strength. It is there in the characters who inhabit her fictions.
It is not that these women are survivors, and many do not survive, but they engage in a struggle that is virtually insurmountable. They fight tooth and claw towards an end.
This “end” is taken for granted by a society that expects them to do likewise and punishes them when they don’t. This “end” is the survival, health and wellbeing of their children and young people. Society denies that reality.
The pretence is maintained not only by its custodians but the ones who fail to engage in the struggle. In much of her fiction…

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A Scottish Rape Crisis

It is not for the first time that this column has been given over to discussions of rape and violence against women but it may be the first time I’ve directed my pen at all right thinking  men – yes you sir – please – read on! Whether it is right here in Scotland or in just about any country across the world rape is on the increase. There have been too many rapes on Glasgow streets in the last fortnight – with thousands of south side residents taking to the streets last week in protest. Angelina Jolie and William Hague recently hosted an international summit highlighting the widespread use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Rape is fed by a rape culture which regards women as inferior, unequal, and their bodies fair game. It is all around us. The UN’s Special Rapporteur recently criticised Britain’s ‘in-your-face’ sexist culture – she visited Scotland too. The twitter-sphere provides a convenient cover for cowardly avatars who taunt and troll women daring to venture into the public eye. When the likes of the never-funny Jimmy Carr and his ilk get away with playing sexual violence for laughs and are paid huge amounts of tax-free dosh for doing so, you do wonder when your average Joe is going to stand up and say enough already.

If you think rape culture doesn’t happen here then ask any adjacent teenager or grown man if they like Page 3, laugh off lads mags as just a abit of fun or ever groove along to Robin Thicke [sic] and his sick ‘Blurred Lines’ (it goes something like this: …I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two… He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that. Not many women can refuse this pimpin’). Grand Theft Auto? Ask them if they’ve ever murdered a prostitute after they’ve had sex with her to get their money back. Ah how wonderful – a rape and murder get you game points –whatever happened to the medieval shenanigans of the harmless old woman-free zone that was Assassins Creed?

Most men don’t rape but maybe it’s time the just-a-bit-too-silent majority of you out there stood up for us women folk like the many men on the Glasgow march and challenged the misogynist culture which is actually aimed at you. The Scottish White Ribbon Campaign and Mentors in Violence Prevention are working at getting chaps to man up against violence against women. Come on guys! You need to work with us on this one!

Rape Crisis Helpline: 08088 01 03 02;

West Dunbartonshire CARA VAW Counselling and Advocacy Service: 01389 738680

White Ribbon Scotland:

Mentors in Violence Prevention:

Follow me on Twitter @AnniDonaldson

Read my blog:




This article was originally published on The Conversation

Read the original article here

Anni Donaldson does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.




Not a great drying day....

The Steamie (1988)
at Glasgow Women’s Library

GlasgowAnni is Best Article Award Winner – Write to End Violence Against Women Awards 2013.

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