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Some of our Twitter followers may have noticed that we’ve been talking about sectarianism quite a lot recently.

We’re at the early stages of an exciting project to find out more about how intra-Christian sectarianism affects women across Scotland, and to help make sure that women’s voices are heard loud and clear in discussions about how to make communities strong and resilient.

We’re doing this in two ways. Firstly, we’re creating safe space for women all over Scotland to come together and talk about their communities and their perspective on sectarianism. We’re holding events in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Argyll and Bute. We’re also working on some arts-based ways for women to illustrate how sectarianism affects them, including making a film with Urbancroft. Secondly, we’re working with other organisations who are running sectarianism projects, to help them to think about how sectarianism might affect women and men, and boys and girls, in different ways.

Despite all of the research, policy and initiatives to tackle intra-Christian sectarianism in Scotland, we still know very little about sectarianism and gender. Although it’s a little off the beaten path for a feminist organisation like Engender, our concern that women were being rendered invisible in an important area of work in Scotland, led us to do a short piece of work on sectarianism last year.

Initially, we ran a six month pilot project in winter 2012-13, funded by the Community Safety Unit at the Scottish Government. During this period, Engender ran focus groups that tried to scope out women’s views on sectarianism in Scotland. What emerged was that women experience sectarianism in in a variety of ways, some of which are very different from men’s experiences. You can read our report on this first phase of work here.

The first phase clearly identified that there was a knowledge gap about women’s experience of sectarianism, and the Community Safety Unit has funded an 18 month project, ending in March 2015, to look further into this issue and build on the work carried out in the pilot.

We’re very pleased to be working with a range of other organisations. We’re working with colleagues at Glasgow Women’s Library on joint events, and also doing work with Pilmeny Development Trust, Xchange Scotland, Sense Over Sectarianism and the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council.

If you have any thoughts on women and sectarianism, then we would love to hear them. You can contact Rosaria Votta, Development Officer, at Rosaria@engender.org.uk. You can also tweet us at @EngenderScot, or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Engender.

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