Rural women take on parliament

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Rural women are having their say in parliament after joining the Young Women Lead Committee.

Alexandra Stevens, Jane Morrison and Esme Leitch, from Mull, Ballachulish and Duror respectively, said the programme has made them feel more empowered.

The Young Women Lead programme (YWL) is run by YWCA Scotland and is made up of 38 young women aged between 15 and 30 residing in Scotland. The purpose of the programme is to educate and promote the role of women in Scottish politics.

The organisation has launched a campaign into gender-based bullying and sexual harassment in Scottish schools.

A meeting will take place tomorrow (Friday April 20), where evidence will be presented.

Speaking about joining, Alexandra Stevens said: ‘Not only have I met an incredibly inspiring and supportive group of women, I’ve been enabled and encouraged to represent a young, female islander’s voice in parliament.

‘For young women to feel empowered to speak up, and listened to when they do, is fundamental to the drive to retain young people in rural and island communities.’

Jane Morrison said: ‘YSL is promoting the voices of so many under represented Scottish young women and I’m delighted to be one of them. The number of rural young women participating shows how much this programme was needed.

‘Women from remote communities have a lot of knowledge and experience they can bring to the table, as well as drive, resilience and commitment to create change.

‘After growing up in a small highland village I wasn’t sure how much of a difference I could make in politics but YWL has shown me that anyone can if the right opportunities are there.’

Nevis Radio DJ Esme Leitch said: ‘After my training with the Young Women’s Movement I now feel so much more empowered and confident when speaking up about important issues.

‘For me the programme has highlighted the differences in the issues facing young rural women compared to urban ones.

‘Rural areas also have a larger gender pay gap and problems such as less flexible, affordable childcare, making it harder for women to go back to work after having children which feeds back into the encouragement of gender roles and women staying at home.

‘There are great female role models in the highlands but still it’s not enough and change needs to happen.’