GWL Host The Great Get Together in Honour of MP Jo Cox

Nicola Sturgeon at GWLFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined us at Glasgow Women’s Library last weekend for The Great Get Together Tea Party and Lunch in honour of murdered MP Jo Cox. In partnership with the Scottish Government, the event was just one of thousands taking place across the country that marked one year since Jo was tragically killed.

Jo lived her life according to the belief that we have more in common than divides us, and in that spirit, her husband Brendan and friends planned The Great Get Together and encouraged people from across the country to mark the anniversary by organising or attending a celebration in their community.

The First Minister addressed attendees at the GWL tea party and urged people not to let the actions of a minority intent on sowing division demonise whole communities. Sturgeon said, “Brendan Cox, Jo’s husband, and the Jo Cox Foundation have to their great credit been really focused on trying to celebrate Jo’s memory by getting people to focus on what unites us, not what divides us.”

“Jo’s maiden speech in the House of Commons had that memorable phrase ‘we have more in common than anything that divides us’, so that’s a pretty good principle for all of us to try and live our lives by.”

She continued: “We live in a world where a tiny minority of extremists try to divide us through acts of unspeakable violence and we’ve got such a responsibility not to allow them to do that.”

Guests at the event were also able to see the special Women on the Shelf block dedicated to Jo that was donated anonymously to GWL the day after she was murdered. The block reads “Campaigner, politician and above all humanitarian, Jo Cox believed in a better world and fought tirelessly for it.”

Brendan Cox’s book, Jo Cox: More in common, is available at the Library.

 

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We Are GWL: Kathryn, Katie and Niamh

 

Can you tell us a bit about what you do at GWL?

Niamh: I’m mainly on Front of House, but I’ve helped with the Lesbian Archives and wrote about the journal Urania. I am always up for helping in every field people need me in.

Katie: I’m Front of house too. I used to be part of the Young Critics project and have volunteered since that ended [in June 2016]. I do lots of fun creative stuff for the Library. I design vouchers and badges and do other Front of House stuff.

Kathryn: I’m here on an internship for eight weeks. One day I am part of the Community Curators group with Krisztina.  On Thursdays I’m in the archives working on the Speaking Out project. I also do general Front of House stuff.

 

What do you most enjoy about GWL?

Niamh: What don’t we enjoy?! I love for me personally that all my interests are under one roof. Intersections of culture, social discussions, inclusion, literature and great fun events raising awareness of important issues.

Katie: I don’t know how to follow that answer! You get to meet so many inspiring women here. There are so many things you get to do: [helping with] events or creative things or just speaking to interesting people visiting from other countries.

Kathryn: I’ve not been here that long… but I enjoy meeting such a wide variety of people and hearing all their stories as well.

 

Who have you meet thanks to the library?

Kathryn: I’ve meet you guys [Niamh and Katie]. Gabrielle, Kristina, and other community creators and other volunteers.

Katie: I’ve meet some of my closest pals. That seems faux deep or false but its true.  Some people I’ve meet here are now my best friends.

Niamh: I’ve meet many female creatives in Scotland.  Top artists, authors and curators. There is opportunities to meet highly respected individuals.

 

What have you learnt?

Niamh: I’ve learn archiving skills, how not be afraid phone calls and library administrative skills. And that spaces can be used for multiple purposes.

Katie: I sure have learn a lot. I’m more confident. I was a ball of anxiety when I started. Being part of Young Critics taught me photographic, filming and critical skills.  And how to look at art.

Kathryn:  [So far] archiving and object handling. And running reception too and answering phones.

 

What is the worst thing about the GWL?

Everyone:  NOTHING. Maybe just when the biscuits run out.

 

 Describe GWL in one word.

Niahm: Oh! just one! Inspiring. Safe is a good one as well. But also its not…as it has radical ideas!

Katie: Comforting. Now I have a full-time job as well I know elsewhere people can be horrible and non-inclusive. It is comforting knowing people here as they are so nice. People are represented and it feels safe.

Kathryn: Friendly. I’ve not met one person here who isn’t.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with us please visit this page.  And you can read about other volunteers and their experiences here.

 

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Digital Book Group: Anna Smaill Answers Our Questions

May’s book for the GWL Digital Book Group was The Chimes by Anna Smaill, a debut novel that was longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize. Anna very kindly agreed to answer some of our questions and our Digital Book Group readers put their heads together and came up with 5 questions to ask the debut novelist. The Chimes Book Cover

GWL: Music is central to the plot of The Chimes… Did you set out wanting to write a book that had music at its heart?

Anna: Yes, I definitely wrote The Chimes as a book that had music at its heart. The very first visual image I had (in the early days, long before I started working on plot or voice) was of a huge instrument, like a church, that you could enter. I thought how interesting it would be if you had to be inducted into both hearing and playing this instrument, much as you would be trained to enter a religious order. Then I began to wonder if the instrument might have a physiological effect on its hearers also. What if the sound itself was dangerous? I knew that I wanted to capture a world where music shaped everything, where it changed how people thought, and even changed their bodies. Trying to understand the intricacies and rules of this world, and how these might fit together, was one of the most satisfying things about writing the novel.

The answer to this question is a bit more complicated, though. Because, in writing about music – or choosing to write a book with music at its heart – I also found that I was inadvertantly exploring my own relationship with classical music, which was rather fraught. I went to university to do performance violin, then quit after my second year. I loved music, but I couldn’t cope with the psychological pressures of performance. I didn’t set out to explore my own relationship with music; in many ways I’d sort of turned away from this or blanked it out. But it somehow emerged anyway. In the novel, there’s an ongoing conflict between the beauty and rapture of music and its totalizing force, its violence – this probably derives from my own love-hate experience with the violin. So, it’s a novel with music at its heart in a few different ways, some conscious and intentional, others less so.

GWL: You very clearly capture the feeling of memory loss in this novel – how difficult was this to write?

Anna: In a logistical sense it was really difficult! In writing a first-person narrator with limited short-term memory you come against some crucial narrative obstacles. It’s difficult to reveal backstory, for one thing, and backstory is one of the key ways you go about building a character. It’s also easy to fall into some cliches of literary memory loss – like that half-remembered lingering suspicion, the uneasy déjà vu, etc. There are only so many times you can beguile the reader with the narrator’s mysterious sense of ‘missing something’ or ‘vaguely remembering something’! It was also really difficult to avoid the first sections (before Simon’s memory starts kicking in) feeling repetitive and episodic. Simon had to wake up each day and do the same things. It was very difficult to pace these sections, and there was a lot of shuffling things around. I’m not sure I solved all of these issues.

On the other hand, I also loved, and love, reading books that privilege the reader with insight, and that freight the narrative with pathos and irony. So it was amazing to derive this energy, to work with it, to feel like I was inhabiting some of its sadness. In general I didn’t really develop any rigorous craft rules around these problems, but just went on instinct. One thing that really helped me was to consider how memory loss might change one’s vocabulary. Simon uses words that are very sensory and physical, rather than abstract. This was an instinctive reaction to the fact that memory is more sensory and physical than it necessarily is linguistic or intellectual. We remember smells, colours, spaces, sounds. This gave me a place to return to in the writing.

GWL: Do you consider who your audience might be when you’re writing something?

Anna: The Chimes is my first novel, so I was in the privileged position of being almost entirely innocent about audience or readership or reception. I was certainly conscious of book marketing and the publishing world (ie I wasn’t naïve or reclusive), and I definitely did want to be published, but in some basic way I also wanted to ignore these things. I essentially wrote the novel for myself, for my own entertainment, as well as for myself as a teenaged reader.

That sounds like a weird contradiction, but it was just how I managed to keep the writing process continually interesting. I was both very pragmatic and overtly conscious of an ideal external reader (I endlessly redrafted and thought constantly about pace and plotting), but also idealistic. I guess it boils down to the fact that I tried not to worry about whether it would sell. I wanted to believe if I made something that pleased and delighted me, then it might please other people too.

The outcome of this disconnect is that I pitched the novel to my agent as a Young Adult genre novel. He immediately said that they’d send it out to publishers as adult literary fiction. This was a shock, and something I suppose I might be more conscious of in future.

Now, working on my second novel, I’m far more aware of audience. It’s a bit inhibiting, and I wish I could return to that more private space.

GWL: Do you feel you have more stories you could tell in this world?

Anna: I’m not sure. I wouldn’t rule it out. I lived there for such a long time, and I really fell in love with much of its detail. I think about Simon and Lucien and wonder how they are. I think, though, that any follow up would have to happen after the overthrow of the novel’s ending. So you’d be sketching a world post-Carillon, post-music. A rebuilding. That’s a very different, perhaps harder space to imagine and live in and write.

GWL: Can you tell us 5 pieces of music that we should listen to to accompany The Chimes?

Anna: Haha! Funnily enough, I never listen to music as I write, so I always feel I should have a better answer to this question than I do. One pop song that really somehow cemented the world of the novel for me, though, was ‘The Dead Girls’ by Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark. I’d also recommend listening to Glenn Gould play Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (Books 1 and 2), Kate Bush’s ‘Experiment IV’, Lorde’s ‘Bravado’, and Suede’s ‘New Generation’ from Dog Man Star. I actually did a more extensive playlist for the great blog Largehearted Boy, and you can find the tracks here, with Spotify links:

http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2016/05/book_notes_anna_5.html

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GWL’s Adele Patrick awarded Honorary Doctorate at GSA graduation

Adele Patrick, our widely admired Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at the GSA graduation on Friday 16 June 2017.

Adele awarded Honorary DoctorateA GSA graduate whose association with the institution continues to this day, Adele has over the last 30 years become one of the most important and influential voices in Glasgow.

Adele first came to Glasgow as a 17-year old to study embroidery and woven textiles.  In the 1980s she was one of the first students on the GSA’s MDes programme through which she met Ross Hunter and Janice Kirkpatrick. As students the trio co-founded the innovative design agency, Graven Images, which under the direction of Kirkpatrick and Hunter has been a leading light in the city’s flourishing creative economy for the last 30 years.

Feminism and the politics of gender have always been central to Adele’s practice and it was therefore no surprise when in 1987 she established Women in Profile, the forerunner to the Glasgow Women’s Library. Through the work of this organisation Patrick made sure that women were front and centre in Glasgow’s year as European Capital of Culture. The Glasgow Women’s Library emerged from the work she lead during the 1990 festival and for the last 27 years Adele Patrick has worked tirelessly to ensure that this unique institution continues to be a beacon for equality and diversity.

“Adele Patrick’s achievements are remarkable,” says Professor Tom Inns, Director of The Glasgow School of Art. “She has harnessed her passion for women’s issues and her entrepreneurial spirit to create and sustain one of the most important institutions in the city – the Glasgow Women’s Library.”

“Adele has been an inspiration and an example to generations of students at the GSA as well as to the people of her adopted city. We are delighted to be able to recognise her contribution through this honorary doctorate.”

‘I considered myself hugely fortunate to have been accepted onto a Glasgow School of Art course, so over three decades later to be receiving this accolade is beyond anything I could have imagined,” says Adele Patrick. “The GSA, and the vibrant milieu of Glasgow in the 1980s and 1990s were incredibly formative for me and for so many others; important, long-lasting friendships were fostered and creative, cultural and campaigning seeds were sown. I am terrifically proud to be associated with GSA and incredibly touched to be honoured in this way.”

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Slam Success!

From “pain, pish and patriarchy” to slam poetry in Doric, it’s fair to say we had a rousing and raucous time at our 2017 All Women Poetry Slam hosted by Carly Brown at the Out of the Blue Café in Edinburgh on Friday 9th June.

A big thank you to our supportive and enthusiastic audience!

We were treated to performances by a group of extremely talented women, each delivering vibrant poetry in their own unique style. A confidence-building melting pot of ideas, audience members told us they loved the bravery, bravado and passion of the performers and the lively, supportive audience atmosphere.

We want to congratulate and celebrate all of the talented women who took part and everyone who came along to support them, and a hearty congratulations go, of course, to winner poet Jo Hastie!

 

If you missed out on being part of this year’s lucky audience, fear not. Keep an eye on the National Lifelong Learning blog, where recordings of some of the performances will be launched in the next few weeks.

 

2017 All Women Poetry Slam Winner Jo Hastie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A great evening – let’s have more of these!” 
2017 All Women Poetry Slam Audience Member

 

Our thanks to our partners Edinburgh City Libraries, the Bonnie Fechters, the Harpies, Fechters and Quines Festival and the Out of the Blue Café in Edinburgh for their part in making this year’s slam such a huge success!

 

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Thoughts on The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

A couple of days ago, I finished reading the popular third wave feminist non-fiction book The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, and its 368 pages of socio-political commentary, theory and in depth analysis of everything in the female sphere left me with many lasting impressions, ideas and musings that I wanted to compile into a little blog/review.

Firstly, if you haven’t read this book and you’re at all interested in feminism or vesting yourself in women’s causes and awareness, you absolutely have to make room for it on your list. Even within the first four or five chapters, despite the depressingly pessimistic overtones and themes, it was teaching me things about patriarchy, mass media and the systematic indoctrination that young girls are targets of from day one. All of the things that we as women might inherently do, from comparing ourselves physically to other females and delighting in their shortcomings to feeling ashamed to go out without make-up and stylish clothing to our self-esteem which is directly tied to society’s ideal of our image, sexuality and what men think of us, there are well-reasoned, researched and, quite frankly, obvious explanations presented in The Beauty Myth. We live in a culture that systematically brainwashes girls into subjugation as part of a culture hell-bent on patriarchy.

The first thing that struck me while looking back over the book once I’d finished it was that, being published in 1990, it is almost three decades old. This revelation was shocking in that, quite honestly, it could have been written yesterday. Unfortunately, this continual reminder of the lack of progression of the female in modern society is all too familiar – if never unsurprising – after reading a pro-feminist book like The Beauty Myth. I remember having similar takeaways from Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus and Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

In many ways, actually, it only serves to highlight how things have gotten worse in relation to the more modern, upright and seemingly inclusive society we occupy today in 2017 compared to when the book was conceived in the late 80s. I couldn’t help but wonder in what scathing, darkly ironic way Wolf would tackle the newer misogynistic advents and control methods of the naughties such as fully bald bikini waxes, free and widely accessible porn and the growing trend of hymen rejuvenation and cosmetic reconstruction. At one point in The Beauty Myth, Wolf actually seems to prophetically allude to a future like this, writing of an image of a sewed-up labia as a metaphor for a female’s role in society moving forward.

The backbone of the book centres around Wolf’s aspirations for the future of our daughters (which, sadly, considering when the book was written should have been me and the girls of my generation) and her guidelines for the potential combat and conquer of much of the patriarchal oppression and the promotion of change in deeply rooted and generally accepted ideology.

To me, the two most important of these guidelines centred on ideas of a woman’s self-image and self-esteem. This is an issue very close to my heart, and as I wrote about in a blog post from around this time last year, it is an increasingly relevant one as younger and younger girls report unhappiness within their looks and body. As Wolf states: “Just as the systematic beauty myth did not really care what women looked like as long as women felt ugly, we must see that it does not matter in the least what women look like as long as we feel beautiful.” We need to figure out how to make ourselves, and all women, especially our youngsters, feel beautiful. There is no such thing as standard “beauty”, just as there is no such thing as standard “ugly”. In this way, we also need to combat the issue of, as Wolf says, “…debating the symptoms more passionately than the disease.” The real issue has nothing to do with whether women wear make-up or don’t, gain weight or lose it, have surgery or shun it, dress up or down, make our clothing and faces and bodies into works of art or ignore adornment altogether. The real problem is our lack of choice.

And this, to me, epitomizes the real inherent issue in society‘s (particularly mass media and tabloid) attitude towards women and their worth being linked directly to their physical “assets”. As a culture, we need to cease being complicit in propagating this narrative of the view of standard beauty being compulsory for all women who want to be taken seriously or respected. While it is easier said than done after decades to being taught to do exactly this, we need to make a committed effort to stop judging other women for their looks. We need to build each other up, not break one another down. Wolf stresses the importance of the need for women to figure out how to promote powerful identities that have nothing to do with our physical appearance, and accept the fact that we have the ability to be simultaneously sexually expressive and serious. These ideals are not mutually exclusive.

Ultimately, The Beauty Myth, despite its inclination to somewhat harshly sweeping sentiments, is a brilliantly exposing and empowering read. Statements such as: “When you see the way a woman’s curves swell at the hips and again at the thighs, you could claim that that is an abnormal deformity. Or you could tell the truth: 75% of women are shaped like that, and soft, rounded hips and thighs and bellies were perceived as desirable and sensual without question until women got the vote.” are utterly scathing and thought-provoking, and are words and truths that absolutely had to be spoken. The real strength of The Beauty Myth comes from the collective, powerful spirit it promotes between women regardless of whether you’re reading alone or as part of a group. Wolf is 100% correct in the bold strength of her assumption: “A woman wins by giving herself and other women permission — to eat; to be sexual; to age; to wear overalls, a paste tiara, a Balenciaga gown, a second-hand opera cloak, or combat boots; to cover up or to go practically naked; to do whatever we choose in following — or ignoring — our own aesthetic.”

The real sadness, of course, is that it is a thirty-year-old book that is still totally relevant today.

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Update on the Speaking Out Young People’s Learning Resource

Engagement officer Emma updates us on the project learning resource for young people. What it’s about, what we hope it will achieve, what we’ve discovered through piloting and, most importantly, when it will be launched!

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We’re nearing the finish line in developing the project learning resource for young people so it seems like a good time for a quick update on our progress and what’s to come. It’s been almost a year since work began on the learning resource last summer and we’ve certainly come a long way since then! A huge thank you to all those who have contributed to the development of the resource so far.

The learning resource is designed to be used by young people in secondary schools and is tied in with the modern studies curriculum, although we think the lessons and activities would be equally useful for facilitators of youth groups. The resource focuses on themes of gender inequality, domestic abuse and violence against women and girls, and the role of activism in affecting social change. Throughout the lessons we use the history of the Women’s Aid movement in Scotland and the material collected by the Speaking Out project to frame these interconnected subjects.

We’ve identified the aims of the learning resource as follows:

  1. To highlight the critically important history of the Women’s Aid movement in Scotland and how it has affected both our understanding of and responses to domestic abuse and the development of a service provision for women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse.
  2. To emphasise activism as a way of achieving successful and positive societal and legislative change.
  3. To promote an understanding on the part of young people of the connection between gender inequality and violence against women and girls.
  4. To encourage a greater understanding of what domestic abuse is and to help young people to be able to identify behaviours that are abusive.

Activities on gender inequality and Women’s Aid piloted with Girl Guides in Glasgow.

 

We’ve been piloting activities from the learning resource over the past few months with Girl Guiding units in Glasgow and Edinburgh and two school classes in Glasgow. Their feedback has really helped to shape the resource. One trend that has emerged through the piloting is that many young people seem to believe gender equality has been achieved. This is concerning as we need young people to be active in fighting for increased rights and representation for women and girls and for an end to gender stereotyping which negatively impacts both girls and boys, men and women. Based off of this, we’ve included guidance for teachers and facilitators and evidence they can use to counter this commonly held idea.

Over the next month we’ll be finalising all the learning resource materials before sending them to our amazing graphic designer who will make sure the notes pack and learning booklet look fantastic and a far cry from their rather drab current Word document format a shown above.

The learning resource will be publicly launched on Tuesday, 29 August when it will become available for free to download from the project website. We’ll also be holding information evenings for those interested in using the learning resource on Tuesday, 29 August at Scottish Women’s Aid in Edinburgh and on Thursday, 31 August at Glasgow Women’s Library. Booking information will be made available shortly but for now save the date and please share with anyone you think might want to attend.

We’re so excited to launch the learning resource and hope that it will contribute to helping teachers and facilitators open up this incredibly important conversation about gender inequality and its connection to violence against women and girls. We also see the leaning resource as a fantastic opportunity to engage and inspire a new generation with the amazing history of Women’s Aid in Scotland.

‘The youth is the hope of our future.’

-Jose Rizal

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Seeing Things Roundup! May 2017

In May, the Seeing Things group went on three trips, all of which were a-May-zing! (Geddit?!)

We were extremely lucky to receive free tickets from the National Theatre of Scotland to the excellent play, The 306: Day. Directed by Jemima Levick, this is the second part of Oliver Emanuel and Gareth Williams’s trilogy First World War Trilogy. Presented by the National Theatre of Scotland, Perth Theatre, and Stellar Quines, the play is based on real events and testimonies, and follows the lives of three ordinary women during World War I. Members of Seeing Things joined Donna and other GWL members on this trip, which presented fascinating women’s stories and was enjoyed by everyone who went along.

‘Unhidden Gender’, by Kate Charlesworth. Photo credit: Nicola Carty for GWL

Earlier in the month, myself, Joyce, and Margaret went to Unlimited Studios in Partick, for the opening night of BLAMM!, an exhibition of work by Kate Charlesworth, a brilliant, Edinburgh-based cartoonist, illustrator, and writer. The show spanned her whole career and it was incredible just how much there was to see, and how educational a lot of it was! There was an entire wall devoted to Charlesworth’s work on The Cartoon History of Time, a graphic novel written by John Gribbin, which explains Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time in a way that’s much easier for most of us to get our heads around! Margaret was keen to pick up a copy for her grandson, to help him learn something new in an entertaining, fun, and funny format. There was so much on display that it was a bit mindblowing (to use Joyce’s word!), and it’d be well looking at the graphic novel itself to really be able to take everything in.

Also on display were many of the strips Charlesworth has produced for publications like Diva, Spitting Image, and New Scientist, as well as a selection of the art she drew for Sally Heathcote: Suffragette. This is another graphic novel, written by Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot, and brought to life by Charlesworth’s beautiful artwork. The book tells the story of a fictional suffragette called Sally Heathcote and is well worth reading, even if you’re not familiar with the graphic novel format or don’t know very much about the suffrage movement.

We had a really nice chat with Charlesworth, who even gave Joyce an autograph! L to R: Kate Charlesworth and Joyce. Credit: GWL

Charlesworth gave a short speech later in the evening, noting the importance of humour and art to political development and struggles. So much of her work is funny that it can be easy to forget its political and social importance, especially in terms of representation of LGBTQ+ people. Referring to her alter-ego, Auntie Studs, Charlesworth commented,

it’s frivolous, but it’s proof that we were here.

I thought it was a lovely, and important message to take away from a fun night, which the three of us really enjoyed.

Joyce literally walked away in shame when I took this selfie with Auntie Studs. I regret nothing. Credit: Nicola Carty for GWL

 

Towards the end of May, Fiona, Parween, and myself went to a film at the CCA called 3,000 Nights. The film is F-rated and is directed by Mai Masri, a Palestinian filmmaker. It was part of a series of events organised by Glasgow Supports Palestine and other groups to raise awareness of Palestinian political prisoners. The screening took place during the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike which ended on the 27th of May after 40 days; around 1500 Palestinian political prisoners were on hunger strike for to demand better treatment in prisons, including better medical treatment and an end to solitary confinement.

3,000 Nights is based on real events, and tells the story of Layal, a Palestinian schoolteacher who is jailed after being accused of helping a teenage boy on the run from Israeli police. Layal then discovers she is pregnant. She gives birth to a son and despite the horrors she experiences in prison, she must protect him, survive, and maintain hope. We were really lucky that a member of Glasgow Supports Palestine – himself a former Palestinian political prisoner – introduced the film for us, and verified much of what we saw.

Fiona and myself noted that the film was dark, and very, very moving. Seeing the struggles and terrible conditions inflicted on people, who are often not guilty of any crime was shocking and at times distressing.  Parween commented on how sad it is that people don’t always respect one another as human beings; we saw how it becomes easy to take an ‘us and them’ approach to situations, instead of recognising people’s common humanity and attempting to work together through kindness. The cruelty people that bad people can show to others because of differences in upbringing or life experiences was made very clear throughout the film; although this was obviously very grim, it also reminded us to take care of and respect each other, especially in difficult times when people are persecuted or made to feel fear.

Coming up in June, we’ve got a guided tour of the Sisterhood is Powerful exhibition at GWL, and we’ll be attending Professor Alison Phipps’s UNESCO lecture on refugees and the arts. If you’d like to come with us to either of these events, or want to have your name added to our mailing list for future events, please let us know! Drop us an email, call us on 0141 550 2267 or pop in to see us at 23 Landressy Street.

 

 

 

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June’s Digital Book Group Read: The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto

We’re delighted to announce the next title in our Digital Book Group, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto.

Fatima Bhutto’s debut novel begins and ends one rain swept Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas close to the Afghan border. Three brothers meet for breakfast. Soon after, the eldest, recently returned from America, hails a taxi to the local mosque. The second, a doctor, goes to check in at his hospital. And the youngest, the idealist, leaves for town on a motorbike. Three hours later their day will end in devastating circumstances. The Shadow of the Crescent Moon chronicles the lives of five young people trying to live and love in a world on fire. Individuals are pushed to make terrible choices. And, as the events of this single morning unfold, one woman is at the centre of it all.

“Bhutto’s novel offers a series of lucid encapsulations told from the perspective of one of Pakistan’s most knowledgeable insiders.” – The New York Times.

Shadow of the Crescent Moon Cover

How to Get Involved

We’ll be posting updates and related content to this blog. You can find all of the posts so far here. We’ll make sure that we summarise discussions on our blog so that those of you without social media can still get a flavour of what is being discussed.

On Twitter, keep an eye on the #GWLBookGroup hashtag for all related tweets and please do share your own thoughts and insights. We’ll be running two Twitter chats around The Shadow of the Crescent Moon at the end of the month on Wednesday 28th May at 1pm and 7pm. These chats will feature the same starting questions but you are welcome to join in on both.

New Facebook Group

On Facebook we’ve created a new closed group where we can gather all of the content and discussions. To join, simply request to join the group and we’ll approve your request to give you access.

May’s Book

In May, we read Anna Smaill’s The Chimes. Anna very generously agreed to answer some of our questions and we’ll be posting her responses on our blog soon so keep an eye on our website.

Happy reading!

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Volunteers, We ♥ You!

In celebration of volunteers week, 1-7 June, project co-ordinator Sarah Browne reflects on how vital volunteers have been to the Speaking Out project and updates us on what took place at our recent volunteer catch-up events (besides eating lots of amazing cake that is!).

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Volunteers at one of our recent project catch-up events.

 

During May we organised two catch up events for volunteers who have been recording the history of Women’s Aid in Scotland as part of the Speaking Out project. Volunteers on this project are based throughout Scotland, from Inverness to the Borders, and they have been extremely busy during the last year interviewing people connected to Women’s Aid, contributing to a project film, co-curating a touring exhibition, arranging and cataloguing the archive, and much, much more. The Speaking Out project would not have been as successful without this hard work and we’d like to take the opportunity of Volunteers Week to say a huge thank you to the group of women who have volunteered their time and made this project happen.

As the co-ordinator of this project, one of the first ‘major’ tasks was to recruit volunteers from all around Scotland. I still remember the feeling of publicising the roles and then wondering what would happen if no one responded! Thank goodness they did and we were overwhelmed by the amount of positivity and interest in the project. In April and May 2016 we invited 40 volunteers to attend induction events and from that initial group volunteers attended training that reflected the role they would be undertaking. It has been hugely inspiring to watch women, who have never picked up a camcorder before, collect the camera kit and travel to a woman’s house or office and film an interview or to observe women, who were anxious about asking the ‘right’ questions, listening to responses at the same time as making sure the technology was working and it all being recorded, contact me after an interview to tell me what a rewarding and positive experience it had been.

The volunteer catch-up events held in May 2017 allowed us to reflect on the last year, to think about what has been achieved, and what lessons we can learn from the whole experience. It was great to hear women talk about what a ‘brilliant journey’ it has been and how it was ‘ great to feel part of something’ and how they had felt ‘inspired by the power of women working together.’ I know I’ve certainly been inspired by working alongside so many women who have been willing to volunteer their time, contribute ideas, and to work with others to ensure that women’s voices and stories are preserved and collected for future generations.

In fact, my first contact with Scottish Women’s Aid was over ten years ago as a volunteer for the 30th anniversary oral history pilot project. I was an oral history interviewer and I can remember feeling nervous and anxious about conducting interviews, of which I knew the historical importance, for an organisation’s project and not just for my own research. I really appreciated the opportunity to volunteer for such a fantastic organisation and for a project which recognised the expertise of Women’s Aid and everything Women’s Aid has done to support women, children and young people and in helping to transform our understanding of domestic abuse. I only hope the volunteers on the Speaking Out project feel the same.

Thank you to all the Speaking Out volunteers and to all those who have contributed to the project.

 

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