30 Under 30: Kirsty Strickland

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Kirsty Strickland, 27, originally from Fife, now lives in Glasgow

Kirsty Strickland is a columnist and commentator who writes for The National, CommonSpace and the Independent. She has appeared on radio and television to talk about feminism and politics, and appeared on BBC Scotland’s 2017 election night coverage.

Her key interests are women’s rights, violence against women and the representation of women in politics and women in the media. She wrote a blog for Women For Independence on gender balance in current affairs programmes (think: the disappointingly ubiquitous “manel”), and regularly writes and campaigns on the subject.

Kirsty’s writing career kicked off in 2015, when she won the Write To End Violence Against Women Awards bursary. Through this she wrote a series of columns for The National in the run up to the awards, and continued to do so once the awards had passed. In 2016, she attended the awards again, this time as a judge, and delivered a speech highlighting the erasure of women who’ve been killed by men in the media coverage of their deaths.

Now Kirsty is writing her first novel, alongside her freelance writing and political commentary. In her spare time, she likes to read, cook and write children’s stories that (according to her) nobody ever reads.

Watch this space because we predict great things to come from this badass young woman!

IN HER OWN WORDS…

What’s your proudest achievement?

My daughter, Orla. I don’t know if she counts as an ‘achievement’ though, because she is very much a force of nature and I can’t take the credit for that. Nevertheless, her general awesomeness, intelligence and confidence is a privilege to get to see every day. I can’t believe I grew such a fierce, gallus little girl. Aside from Orla, I was very pleased to win the Scots Independent ‘New Talent in Journalism’ award this year.

Particularly because it meant that I was given the opportunity to interview Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament. As a life-long politics geek, I actually had a photo of Nicola Sturgeon on my wall when I was a teenager. She has always been somebody I’ve admired, so to sit down and interview her was a real pleasure, and a definite highlight of the year.

What women inspire you?

My family boasts some incredible, strong women. My mum, who has had to face struggles and make sacrifices throughout her life. She raised me and my five siblings with resilience, working in hard, physical jobs and doing the absolute best she could under difficult circumstances. She was the person who sparked my love of books and reading, and in turn, writing. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

My little sister Megan inspires me every day. She is a hard-working, sensible and determined young woman. She was the first of my siblings to go to university, and despite the fact that our Dad died during her time there, she still managed to go to achieve a first class honors degree in history. She’s a boss.

My Auntie Tricia (Marwick), who was the first woman Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, and the first person in that role without a University education. I am so incredibly proud of her service to public life, and she is a great example of what working-class women can achieve.

A woman from out-with my family that really inspires me is Talat Yaqoob, co-founder of the brilliant Women 50:50 campaign. We are so lucky to have a woman like her fighting for equal representation of women in politics. She is a force to be reckoned with. I was doing an event at Glasgow Women’s library last year, and it was the first time I’d heard her speak. I remember turning to my friend who was sitting next to me and we did a kind of mutual “omg – how AMAZING is she?!” She is also incredibly supportive, and somebody that will offer advice and encouragement to young women. Even slightly embarrassing fan-girls like me!

What change would you like to see for girls and young women in Scotland in next 10 years?

I’d like to see young women and girls achieving their potential. Potential that isn’t realised not because of lack of ambition or determination, but because of the structural inequality that sees their capabilities under-utilised. Representation is key, because as the saying goes ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ As a country, we are never going to reach our full potential until the skills and voices of young women and girls are properly seen and heard.

Similarly, women will never achieve equality, be it in Scotland or anywhere else when the violence against us is so prevalent and wide-spread. The spectrum of violence and intimidation; street-harassment, sexual assault in clubs and bars, rape and domestic violence, is a real scourge. I’d like to see us make progress towards eradicating rape culture, the objectification of women and the entitlement some men feel towards our bodies.

What can we do to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all?

Smash the patriarchy.

Smash misogyny.

Recognise that women face different structural challenges. A few white women rising to the top doesn’t mean that we’ve reached equality, and we shouldn’t get complacent in thinking that is the case.

What 3 women (past or present, real or fictional) would you invite to your dream dinner party/picnic?

Michelle Obama,  Sojourner Truth, Lilian Bland

What would your message be for girls and young women in Scotland?

You can never have too many books, too much self-belief, or too many women friends and mentors. In whatever it is you want to achieve, there will be other women who’ve walked that path and can help you down yours.

I wouldn’t be writing or got started in my career if it weren’t for other women encouraging me and being so generous with their time and expertise. Women need to lift each other up; if you’re doing well, offer a hand. If you’re just starting out, reach for one.

I’ve struggled with ‘imposter-syndrome’ in the past, and wasted far too much time worrying that I’m not good enough, or clever enough, or brave enough to do the things I want to in life. For young women, your time is precious. Please don’t waste a second of it worrying that you aren’t good enough; you ARE. So take up space, make yourself heard, know your worth and go out and achieve your potential. And know that while you are doing that, other women are rooting you on and delighted to see you succeeding.

You can find Kirsty’s published writing here, follow her blog, and find her on Twitter @kirstystricklan

Pictures courtesy of Kirsty Strickland and BBC Scotland


You can see the full list of our amazing 30 Under 30 2017 finalists here, and keep a look out on the blog as we feature  a different finalist every day throughout November.

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