The winner of the Edinburgh and Lothian Woman of the Year is....a woman probably just like you - Susan Dalgety

I can’t be the only person glad to see the back of 2021. What a miserable year. It started with a lockdown and ends with lockdown 4.0. No amount of cheap fizz and purple Quality Street can lift my mood.

By Susan Dalgety
Monday, 27th December 2021, 12:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 7:19 am
"Everywoman" is woman of the year this year, writes Susan Dalgety. PIC: Lisa Ferguson.
"Everywoman" is woman of the year this year, writes Susan Dalgety. PIC: Lisa Ferguson.

I suppose I could go for yet another walk along the beach at Fisherrow, or if I am feeling energetic, I could venture as far as Portobello. I could watch yet another lifestyle programme on catch up – there must be an episode of A Place in the Sun I haven’t seen.

I could even read one of the books that are piled by my bed, their spines unbroken, their covers pristine. Or I could do something useful, like choose my Edinburgh and Lothian Woman of the Year. Like lockdown, it’s becoming an annual tradition in my house. But who, of all the wonderful, feisty, hard-working, inspirational women I know, deserves the 2021 accolade?

I have to rule out Nicola Sturgeon, on the grounds that while she works in Edinburgh, she is really a Glasgow girl. That and I disagree vehemently with her about shoes. No woman, no matter how short, should be encouraged to wear toe-pinching, bunion-inducing four-inch heels. Sorry First Minister, you’re a bad role model. In 2021, real women wear trainers.

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I am tempted to pick Joanna Cherry, MP for Edinburgh South West. I disagree with her too, but on the more substantial matter of whether Scotland should leave the UK. But she is also a superb politician, and despite the best efforts of some in her party to bully her into submission, she refuses to back down in her spirited defence of women and their rights.

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We can't just let Edinburgh become a playground for the rich - Susan Dalgety

A bit like my third contender, Edinburgh’s most famous resident, JK Rowling. Her work rate is phenomenal, her generosity unsurpassed, and like Joanna Cherry, a warrior queen when it comes to standing up for women.

But, after much reflection, I have picked Everywoman. Let’s call her Karen. She could be any age. She doesn’t live in a New Town mansion, or have letters after her name, or earn a fortune. Dear reader, she may even be you.

Karen works hard, looking after an ageing parent or bringing up children while holding down a full-time, minimum wage job. Sometimes all three.

She cares for our elderly, cleans our hospitals, keeps our supermarkets open at eight o’clock at night for our convenience. She doesn’t earn enough to save for a rainy day, and sometimes struggles to reach the end of the month without going into the red. Her pension is not gold-plated.

She dreams of shopping in Harvey Nichols while racing round Primark and her treat is the Coronation Street Omnibus late at night when everyone is in bed.

Our daily lives have been disrupted in a way not seen since the Second World War. And at the heart of our national effort to keep going is an army of Karens.

Mothers, sisters, aunties, grannies, best friends. Cleaners, carers, shop assistants. Teachers, nurses, hairdressers. Women holding families and society together.

Karen doesn’t think she is exceptional, she just gets on with life. But without her, we would all struggle. That is why the 2021 Edinburgh and Lothian Woman of the Year is Karen: Everywoman.

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