Members' area: Sign in or join Engender
On the Engender: Scotland's feminist policy blog and podcast

Engender blog

All of Engender’s latest news. Reports, reviews, books, articles, and information from across Scotland’s women’s sector.

We would love to hear from other feminists around Scotland. Check out our guidelines for more information on how you can blog for us.

Smith Commission: problems and possibilities for women's equality

Scottish ParliamentThe Smith Commission website is as spare as a fledgling campaign website. It serves as an indicator of the hasty birth of the Commission itself; set up in a scramble following the independence referendum No vote.

Smith's purpose can't easily be aligned with its timescale. After a season of weighing the possibilities of independence, in which participation has flourished across Scotland, the brevity of the Commission's timetable means a return to the old ways. The political parties have already made their submissions, and civil society has only another couple of weeks to contemplate the powers it would see transferred to Holyrood and make its case. Awkwardly, the deadline for civil society submissions is the same as the date that the UK Government command paper will be published.

Guest Blog: Intersectionality

Women's symbol

In this week's guest blog post Richa Okhandiar writes about her experience of intersectionality in Scotland.

When I first came across the concept of intersectionality – it blew my mind.

I became actively interested in feminism around the age of 15 through being influenced by my older sister, discovering riot grrl and kickass role models in music and art who challenged gender norms a la Kathleen Hanna, Brody Dalle, and Carrie Brownstein. It was a complete age of discovery – I loved that there was this movement that accepted women as people who could be talented, thoughtful, screw-ups and genuine bad asses. Feminism and I just clicked, we were meant to be, it was fated.

There was always one drawback for me – all of the feminist icons I would read about, see in music and be heralded as role models were pretty much always white. It was always a bummer that I never saw anyone that looked like me or that my experience as a women had to be drawn from the Western, middle class part of my identity rather than the second-generation Indian born person born and raised in the UK. Even when I went to university and continued my education into feminism it became evident that the vast majority of accessible mainstream writing was all from one perspective. So I'll say it again, when I first came across intersectionality – it blew my mind!

Engender's response to the indyref result


Scotland has decided, 55% to 45%, to remain part of the UK and not to be an independent country.

The implications of this are unfolding in real time, and we have already heard from politicians from across the political spectrum at Westminster this morning about a process to review and enhance Scotland's devolution settlement.

Engender has been neutral throughout the referendum campaign, but we have created space for our members and women in Scotland to discuss different constitutional futures. We know that amid the flourishing of democratic participation that this campaign has provoked, has been a heartfelt desire on the part of many to realise women's equality in Scotland.

We will be taking part in any process accessible by us to discuss the devolution settlement. We will involve our members in the detail, but will advocate for the following things:

  • Women's equal participation in discussions and structures that determine any new settlement.
  • Discussions in which gender is considered as a factor, whether that is in considering the implications for new powers on care and childcare, on women's unpaid work, on women's political representation, on violence against women, on women's labour market equality, or on women's human rights.

We would like to congratulate our members who have campaigned for a Yes or No, Thanks vote. You have engaged women and girls, and all of the people of Scotland, in ways that we hope will not be undone.

Guest blog: Women for Independence (Indyref Thursday #8)

This week's final indyref Thursday is a double page special from two former politicians who have been out on the campaign trail. They describe what they believe their vote will mean for women.

Carolyn Leckie is a former Scottish Socialist Party MSP for Central Scotland.

When I was in the Parliament I got into trouble. For weeks I’d been trying to ask Jack McConnell about the nursery nurses. Nursery nurses who, as women, were deeply skilled but disgracefully paid and striking for better. I’d managed to secure a member’s debate but despite repeated attempts, I was not allowed to ask Jack if he supported them. So, I made a point of order and was overruled. So I stayed standing for the nursery nurses who were thronging the Royal Mile in their hundreds outside. I was chucked out. But I was glad to join the women outside, who were protesting at a parliament that had no control of employment law, equalities, wages or trade union legislation.

Guest blog: Women Saying No (Indyref Thursday #8)

This week's final indyref Thursday is a double page special from two former politicians who have been out on the campaign trail. They describe what they believe their vote will mean for women.

Maria Fyfe is a former Labour MP for Glasgow Maryhill

I know women who are voting Yes because they want a fairer and more equal society. I completely agree with their aim, but where is the capacity to achieve it? It doesn’t happen just because enough people put a cross against Yes on a ballot paper. We can all be emotionally aroused by stirring speeches. But one of the wisest pieces of advice I ever heard was, “Never mind what politicians say. Look at how they spend the public’s money and then you know what they really care about.” I could add to that, what they tax and who gets tax cuts.

True, there are people of a left wing bent in the Yes campaign, and even some feminists. But there is little sign that their views are being heeded by the SNP, by far the largest political party. If a Yes vote wins, it will be Alex Salmond as First Minister who will lead the negotiations with the rest of the UK, Nato and the EU. It is likely the SNP would continue to be the governing party for quite a while, because the history of new states being formed usually is that the party most identified with independence is the winner when it comes to elections.

On the Engender podcast

Find out more about our podcast here.


We are always looking for new voices on our blog.

Please send us your blogs and we can offer editing advice, and we also have some opportunities for paid contributions.

Find out more here