Status of Young Women in Scotland – LAUNCHED!

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We are beyond excited to announce the launch of the first ever Status of Young Women in Scotland (SYWS) report. This is an original piece of research that explores the realities of life for young women in Scotland, and the report presents a diverse snapshot of the issues affecting Scotland’s young women today.MSP

The SYWS report opens with a foreword from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who on Friday spoke of her commitment to gender equality at the Women of the World summit in London: since becoming First Minister, she has often used her platform to highlight issues of gender equality. In her foreword, Nicola Sturgeon says that ‘Research such as the Status of Young Women in Scotland is important as it shines a light on the issues still facing young women in Scotland and where we must do more to make sure they can maximise their potential’.

The SYWS report was researched, written and produced by young women, following a series of face-to-face interviews with over 60 participants between the ages of 16 and 30. The report is structured around themes which came out of these discussions, as young women considered the ways in which gender affects their lives. It’s the first time that research of this kind has been done in Scotland, providing space for young women to speak up on the issues which affect them and what they are doing to bring about change.

Many young women spoke about their experience of the political situation in Scotland and the UK as a whole, criticising the sexism of political campaigns targeted at women voters and media representation of women politicians:

‘In politics women are unwelcome and treated as caricatures; for example almost all the coverage about Nicola Sturgeon’s appointment as First Minister included commentary about her appearance. One newspaper portrayed her as Miley Cyrus, in a tartan bikini, astride a wrecking ball.’

‘I’m fed up of hearing about Theresa May’s shoes.’

Participants also cited the recent Scottish independence referendum, discussing the ways in which it differed from May’s General Election, and recognising it as an event which engaged them in politics:

‘Women had a central role in political discussion during the referendum and that will have a legacy – for example, Women for Independence have put childcare on the political agenda.’

‘There were lots of female participants in the independence debate – Elaine C Smith, all the female party leaders – it just felt very different to the UK general election.’

The importance of role models is another theme that emerged repeatedly throughout the Status of Young Women in Scotland report, with interviewees speaking about political and cultural figures including Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham. In her foreword, Sturgeon – described in the report as ‘inspiring’ and ‘a positive figure to be leading Scotland’– writes about the importance of role models in her own political journey:

‘When I first thought about entering politics, seeing other women blazing a trail encouraged me to believe I could do the same. What aspiring female politician growing up in Scotland could help but be inspired by Winnie Ewing or Margo MacDonald?’

judgedWe were excited to soft launch the SYWS report at our #Envision2035 for Young Women consultation on 2 October. The event brought together individuals from across the third sector and beyond to envision the future 20 years on for Scotland’s young women, as part of the World YWCA Envisioning 2035 process. Attendees recalled their own #GenderLightbulb moments – moments when they realised that they were being treated differently because of their gender – and explored the idea of a society free from gender stereotyping and discrimination.

We hope that the Status of Young Women in Scotland report will be used by politicians, organisations, and individuals as a tool for change, helping to bring about bold and transformative change by 2035 envisaged by young women in Scotland and across our worldwide movement. You can access our report online in PDF format. If for any reason you would like a copy of the SYWS report in a different format, please contact us at

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