These Women Are Outstanding

Women; underrepresented and undervalued, we know this right? Well, Glasgow Women’s Library and Saltire Women have teamed up to combat this by honouring the contribution of women to Scottish culture. The two joined for the Outstanding Women of Scotland Awards last year. Once again, ten inspiring women will be awarded for their significant influence and inducted into the “Outstanding Women of Scotland” community.

So, as it’s a week until nominations close, I’ve compiled a wee arty round up to get you thinking about who you might want to nominate. Here are just five of the incredible creative and activist women we have on our shores…



Janet McBain

Scottish Screen Archive

Janet can boast to pretty much single-handedly collating and preserving the country’s film heritage. Ok, not quite, but her contribution is enormous. Back in 1976, she began as the first archivist for the Scottish Film Council, sorting the cans that people had been handing in (I know right, cans!). No one had known what to do with them, but soon it was figured that, hey, this is important Scottish film history. So the archivist job was created and Janet’s work began.

As Scotland had never had an archive before, Janet took on the mammoth task of finding films to put in it (as well sorting through existing donations). Zoom forward 30 years and the archive now boasts over 32,000 films and is accessible online, to anyone, anywhere in Scotland.

Janet has stepped down as curator of the archive, but she’s also done awesome television work, contributing to BBC Scotland’s Scotland on Film and co-presenting Attic Archives and The Way it Was, each of which explored aspects of Scottish history and culture through archive film. Yep, this is one mean archivist.



Maggie Kinloch

Deputy Principal at RCS

Maggie is a Higher Education wiz and currently Deputy Principal at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS). Maggie’s role is pretty important, given all those dudes in senior positions at Universities. But she’s never been afraid to take a prominent female role in Scottish arts education. She’s been artistic director at various theatre companies in Scotland, and worked in education in London.

Before her current position, she was Head of the School of Drama at Queen Margaret University for five years, and then Director of Drama at what was the RSAMD. She was promoted to Vice Principal in 2009 and became Deputy Principal in 2013. She is the face of the campaign for equality at the institution, chairing the Equality and Diversity forum. She also led the recent curriculum reform process.

Her passion and belief in the importance of the arts, and commitment to fostering young talent is what makes her a more than worthy nominee.


“What we do as artists is right at the very heart of society. What we do matters and we matter. Be brave”



Sam Ainsley

Artist, Glasgow School of Art (GSA)

Sam is another noticeable figure in arts and education. An artist and teacher, she was (until recently) Head of the influential MFA Programme at Glasgow School of Art, which she co-founded as Director from its inception. From 1985-1991 she taught on the Environmental Art programme. She currently teaches part-time in Painting and Printmaking at GSA.

She has also forged a super successful career as a visual artist nationally and internationally, and is widely respected having recently spoken on support and opportunities for older artists as part of Luminate festival.

Sam is currently undertaking a collaborative 3 year residency at Glasgow Sculpture Studios alongside David Harding and Sandy Moffat. You can read more about this on their AHM blog. She’s a cool lady.


Amal Azzudin (@amalazzudin)

Human Rights Activist

 You might well know Amal for her amazing work as part of the ‘Glasgow Girls’. She fought for the release of her friend Agnesa Murselaj when she faced deportation, with the aid of six of her fellow classmates from Drumchapel High School. Not only were they successful, (they got her and her family back three weeks later), but also the group eventually found themselves confronting the then First Minister Jack McConnell face to face. The story has since inspired a National Theatre of Scotland production and a BBC Three musical drama.

Since then, Amal has been to college, where she worked in communities, and then entered the second year of the BA in Community Development at Glasgow Uni.

She now works in a community development role at the Mental Health Foundation, raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing among refugee women. What’s more, she continued to work in that role whilst studying for a Masters in Human Rights & International Politics.

On top of all this, Amal continues the very real fight on the ground – giving plenty of talks, recently at the Unite Against Facism conference, blogging for the Scottish Refugee Council and embarking on solidarity missions and campaigning for refugees in Greece. No biggie.


Claire Cunningham

Artist and Choreographer

Claire is a performer and choreographer committed to making sure contemporary dance isn’t just made up of robots. Originally a classically trained singer, she’s been working in dance for the last ten years and already her impact is huge.

Not only is her work beautiful, (seriously, check it), but extremely important in making dance inclusive and, well, more interesting. Her concerns lie with non-normative bodies and highlighting how much better off the dance world is when we look beyond only representing non-disabled bodies. Often choreographing using her crutches, her pieces explore disability in relation to religion, and judgment of bodies.

Contemporary dance doesn’t really have a choice in the matter; she’s among those leading the way in opening up the field for all.


Jess Thorpe


Founder and current steering group member for the Scottish Prison Arts Network (SPAN), Jess is brilliant because she’s committed to widening arts provisions in the Scottish prison system.

As Lecturer in the Arts in Social Justice at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, she works with students in designing creative projects with Scottish prisons and communities affected by crime. She consistently creates space for other artists, writing around her experience of the arts in prisons, most recently an Artist’s Guide to working in Scottish Prisons.

In 2011 she went on placement with Michigan University and their Prison Creative Arts Programme during which she worked in prisons in and around Detroit, USA. In 2014 she was awarded a Winston Churchill Award for a 6 week residency at the York Correctional Institution for Women in Connecticut, USA, to explore the use of the arts to connect families separated by incarceration.

What’s more, she is co-Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed performance company Glas(s) Performance and co-founder and facilitator of the award-winning radical collective of young people; Junction 25. She does great and but often invisible work.


Don’t just take my arty advice; you can nominate women from all walks of life, (science, law, architecture, other areas I know nothing about…)


Got someone who inspires you? Nominate them! Have we missed your total fave off the list? Let us know! @gwlkettle. This is one way to start giving Scottish women the recognition they deserve.

The ten leading nominees will be announced on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day. Nominations can be made via Twitter using the hashtag #saltirewomen or by completing the online form HERE.


Happy nominating!

Post a Comment

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked *


You may use some HTML tags and attributes.