Charity launches Building Equality project to tackle roots of domestic abuse

Women’s groups launch new project to tackle structural barriers for women in employment and the economy

SCOTTISH WOMEN’S AID (SWA) have launched a new project called ‘Building Equality’ which will look at the underlining factors of gender inequality which lead to and entrench violence against women.

Funded by the Scottish Government the project will be led and organised by SWA in cooperation with pay equality campaigners Close the Gap and feminist advocates Engender.

SWA hopes the funding will allow the organisations involved to create new policies and ideas that will encourage decision makers to see economic autonomy and job insecurity as part of a wider set of structural barriers which underpin domestic violence.

“It’s not enough to simply condemn this, we need to think outside the box and find real solutions.” Dr Marsha Scott

Speaking to CommonSpace, Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of SWA said: “People always ask why women don’t leave abusive partners, and in amongst a whole range of reasons is financial dependence; leaving often means destitution and poverty for women and their children.

“It’s not enough to simply condemn this, we need to think outside the box and find real solutions.

“We know that domestic abuse is both a cause and consequence of women’s inequality; by supporting women to be financially independent we are helping to create a Scotland where women, children and young people are free from poverty and domestic abuse.”

The average woman in Scotland earns £175.30 per week less than men.

The launch follows the announcement by the Scottish Government last month of its intention to pass a new domestic abuse bill which will look at acts of coercion that often manifest in the financial relationships women have with men and society.

Building Equality organisers insist that instead of seeing women as individuals who need to be ‘fixed’ the project will ask about the barriers women face when they look for work or seek promotion and look for affordable and gender balanced childcare or transport.

Several local women’s aid groups such as Ross-shire Women’s Aid, Women’s Aid South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire and Edinburgh Women’s Aid will join with Shakti Women’s Aid over two years to look for solutions for lifting women and their children out of poverty.

Eighty six per cent of austerity cuts have fallen on women since 2010. Additionally, the entrenched pay gap between men and women sees the average woman in Scotland earn £175.30 per week less than men.

Women also represent 75 per cent of those in part-time work, with 42 per cent of women employed in Scotland working part-time compared to 13 per cent of men. 

Such figures, campaigners argue, show how the debate and previous legislation around domestic abuse has been shallow in addressing the safety of women and their psychological and economic independence.

“People always ask why women don’t leave abusive partners, and in amongst a whole range of reasons is financial dependence; leaving often means destitution and poverty for women and their children.” Dr Marsha Scott

Emma Ritch, executive director of Engender, said: “Despite the huge differences in the ways that men and women experience the world of work, employability initiatives designed to help people in Scotland enter, return to, or sustain employment are currently very unlikely to be gendered.

“Engender is excited about participating in Building Equality because we want to work creatively with our partners to imagine a person-centred approach to women's employability that delivers better outcomes.

“As Scotland develops employability programmes using its new powers, we believe that the time is right to create a system that enables women in Scotland to live better lives.”

Picture courtesy of David Boyle

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