International Women's Day: 'To be surrounded by so many amazing women who all want to make the world better': Be inspired by the heroes behind women's charities
One day a year is not enough time to celebrate the amazing things that women do every day to support each other, but we take a moment to be inspired by just some of the voices behind our women’s charities.
Domestic violence is on the rise during lockdown in Scotland and world wide, the WHO reported in 2017 that about one in three women will experience “physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.”
Where women turn to in times of trauma, when they fear for their safety, when they are abused and trapped, is as crucial now as it has ever been.
These charities are propped up by incredible women working behind the scenes, dedicating their time to volunteer, or leaping into icy water to raise funds.
We want to take the chance to celebrate and be inspired by these people who work hard to save lives.
Suzy is studying for a BSc in Psychology and, in her spare time, volunteers for Rape Crisis Scotland.
She said: ““So many women will either be affected by sexual violence in their lifetime, or know someone who has.
"RCS, the work they do and their core values really stood out to me.
"The volunteer training taught me so much and gave me a toolkit to be able to help people through some very difficult times.
"Being able to give survivors space to talk and to offer them my support feels like such a privilege.
"I don’t even need to do anything to motivate myself to volunteer with RCS; the environment, super-lovely team I’m part of, and amazingly strong survivors do that for me.
"Throughout a very difficult year of lockdowns for everyone, volunteering with RCS has kept me going and has given me new perspectives on so many aspects of life”
Another volunteer, Katie added: “I started volunteering for the Rape Crisis Scotland helpline in 2008 and I’ve worked in the Rape Crisis network in one role or another ever since.
"I started volunteering because I wanted to make a difference to survivors and be a part of a feminist response to gender based violence.
"What I found when I started volunteering was a sense of community and support from the women I worked alongside, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with so many inspiring women both workers and survivors.
"I still, 13 years later, believe in the work of the moment as strongly as I did when I started, I think the Rape Crisis movement and the survivors it supports throughout Scotland are an incredible force for change!”
Sandy, who works for the charity said: “When I tell people what I do, they often think my job must be really hard.
"And sometimes it is, but overwhelmingly it’s inspiring - to be surrounded by so many amazing women who all want to make the world better for survivors of sexual violence.
"The courage and resilience of survivors in dealing with what they have been through is amazing to witness and I feel lucky to be part of a movement with survivors at the heart of it.”
Linda Rodgers is CEO of Edinburgh Women’s Aid, who have not been able to use operational volunteers during lockdown, but have been supported by the work of their board of trustees, all of whom are volunteers.
Linda said: “We wouldn’t be able to do the fantastic work that we do, if it wasn’t for our amazing supporters in the community.
"Whether that’s coming up with ever more ingenious ways to raise money for us during this crucial time, contributing financially or our amazing volunteer board of trustees who give up their valuable time to support us, we are hugely grateful to them all.”
Like all charities, these ones rely on the incredible fundraising efforts of people everywhere, keen to make a difference.
Anna Deacon, an Edinburgh writer, has organised a new way to still raise much needed money despite the lockdown.
She has asked people to take an icy bath or shower, or if they are experienced, to go for a wild swim, take a picture and donate.
She commented: “On International Women’s Day 2021 we are trying to inspire people to donate to their local women’s charities.
"Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel out of control with all the awful things going on in the world, especially with the year we have just had, but if we can just help a bit by donating to somewhere like Edinburgh Women’s Aid or Rape Crisis Scotland then that is one thing you CAN do for good.
"More than ever before these places need our support, domestic violence has increased with lockdown, many women are trapped in awful situations and these charities need our support to help them.
"This years IWD theme is choose to challenge, I choose to challenge myself to do something to help others, maybe you can do the same?”
Last December saw Brenna Jessie and Katie Anderson raise an incredible £21,530 for Rape Crisis Scotland by swimming in the sea at Portobello every day for 16 days.
Brenna said at the time: “We’ve raised enough to employ an additional helpline worker for an entire year.
"These are really hard times for so many people and I know some days it can be hard to see the light.
"I could never have imagined we’d raise this much money, but money aside this has filled us with so much hope.
"This sends such a powerful message to survivors - that you are believed.”
The Rape Crisis Scotland helpline: 08088 01 03 02
Edinburgh Women’s Aid number: 0131 315 8110
Shakti Women's Aid number: 0131 475 2399