Cailleach: ’empowerment through industry’

Formidable, strong and sturdy – these women could run the world if they would only put their mind to it.

Want to read more?

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a  subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.  In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).

Already a subscriber?


Problems logging in and require
technical support? Click here
Subscribe Now

Many moons ago, when I was a cub reporter, an MP put his hand on my knee. I was shocked – I am a wee Presbyterian from a long line of non-demonstrable Presbyterians – and was faced with a dilemma; would I make a scene about it or would I not.
I do consider myself to have natural good looks or the waif-like figure so oft regarded as beauty. I am more of a Highland woman with a body rounded by the love of Crowdie and thick cream in my porridge. I also say it like it is, so these sorts of advances have been few and far between.
Of course I was also married for 25 happy years (that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it).
Anyway, the MP, like every other politician in Scotland bar one (outwith the SNP) he didn’t make it back to Westminster this time around.
Recently, as I was driving into work, I heard about the objectification of women by both Russian president Vladimir Putin and American president Donald Trump.
Mr Putin is recorded as saying the best prostitutes in the world can be found in Russia, while Mr Trump has made many comments about women that the ‘free world’ wishes he had never made.
Of course Mr Trump, a second generation child of our Western Isles, also ran the Miss World beauty pageants. As a reporter in these parts for a decade, I have not seen many examples of women or girls being objectified in such a way. In fact the opposite – I have seen women being at the heart of our communities as respected as the next person, and in many positions of responsibility.
It is interesting that the world has shifted again with the election of Mr Trump.
We already know he has his foibles. As a commentator said on the radio recently – ‘he is not able to resist hitting back’.
I sincerely hope that someone changes the password on his Twitter account before too long, otherwise the world might be in hot water in a very short space of time.
There is no direct correlation of the derisory nature in the objectification of women and elected politicians thankfully. I worked for a wonderful MSP once who was the most equitable man I’ve known. He valued me and listened to me.
It does seem, from my wee house on the edge of the Atlantic, that there is a role that we all have to play in the empowerment of our communities without seeing gender or age or perceived mental or physical ability.
No, the progress should not be through perceived beauty but through hard work, debate and industry.
I met a man in a shop last week who at one time delivered fish to the MacLeod’s of Lewis. he told me this story…
One day he happened to be delivering some cod to Tong. In one home a sister was visiting from America after almost two decades of being abroad. The sassy American woman criticised his fish.
It is reported her sister said: ‘Och, Mary Anne stop trying to be something you are not. It is good fish from the Lord’s good sea. You might live in America now, but you came from nothing and you will go back to nothing.’ Or word’s to that effect.
That wisdom is fairly resonant for all of us.