Who lies beneath? Reflections on Scotland's unseen change makers

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As a former Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid support worker turned feminist academic, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most inspirational and courageous women in Scotland. I see these women as the unsung heroines who are ultimately responsible for changing Scotland and making it internationally renowned for innovative and progressive practice in preventing Gender-Based Violence. For decades, women have worked as volunteers and/or paid staff to support survivors, run refuges, helplines, and campaigns whilst also training local authorities, police, and other agencies. Without them, we would have no women’s support organisations, many more victims would remain in relationships with abusive men, and many more women would be dead at the hands of their partners or ex-partners. Yet, the organisations they run are desperately under-funded and many workers are on insecure contracts with low pay – a form of structural violence that reinforces gender inequality in Scotland. Equally important and unrecognised are the victim/survivors who have raised their voices to ask for help, to resist their abusers, and who risk everything to try to secure their survival. Without them we wouldn’t know about the horrors many endure, and many others would not have been inspired to work tirelessly to change Scotland for the better. Collectively and individually, their achievements are significant. This article explores their resistance and resilience that has allowed Scotland to earn its stellar reputation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalScottish Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2024


  • gender-based Violence
  • inequality
  • resistance
  • survivors


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