We love to do politics differently but what does that really mean?
A look at our last National Council on Well Being will give you some clues.
The theme for our last national council was Women's Well Being and in particular, we were looking at reproductive well being, mental well being and work place well being. This national council was part of a group of four topics identified by our members as areas where they would like to see Women for Independence develop policy and as part of our work towards a Womanifesto for Independence. Our policies and our politics are driven by our membership. We don't feel the need to have an opinion on every topic but where we do have a view, it is our membership that makes it.
So what did the day bring?
We had speakers but we also have open mic sessions to allow women to discuss the issues raised.
We were warmly welcomed to Glenrothes by Fife Councillor Karen Marjoram (SNP) and she discussed her experiences of being a councillor.
Kirsten Izatt who was part of our last national council on Rights gave us a round up on of that day.
We heard from Lorna Ross of Refuge Fife on the work they do supporting refugees both in Scotland and further afield.
Our own national committee member Victoria Heaney updated us on our ongoing #FreePeriodScotland campaign. We now have more than 1000 responses!
The main session of our day was to explore the topic of well being and to develop policy. After a short introduction to get us started, the women worked on timelines highlighting areas where women's well being was affected whether reproductive, mental or work place wellbeing. A summary of the workshops will be available at a later date but topics women highlighted included the impact of poverty on our well being, universal basic income, pensions, intergenerational living, access to health care, work/life balance and access to services. This is only a small insight into the fabulous work that was done by women on the day.
We looked after our women with optional well being sessions on resilience from Julie Bell (left in photo below), singing from Rosemary Hunter (right in photo below) and offered lunch time sessions on yoga, positive well being online and positive body image. Why were these all part of the day? We care for women and their well being so it was a natural part of our day to offer these. Importantly too, it gives women the opportunity to express themselves in ways that they wish. It might be to quietly discuss worries and opportunities one-to-one or in a small group, it might be to hear their voice express something for the first time.
Importantly, we work to get women to take up physical space, moving around if they are able. Women have a tendency to take up as little space as we can manage - if you think that even when simply sitting, men are comfortable with sprawling but women are told to sit neatly, tuck their legs under a chair etc. It's also to support women to feel confident about raising their voice. So from a group of women who mostly thought they wouldn't join in the singing, after the amazing session from Rosemary Hunter, they were singing loudly. Whether in tune or out of tune didn't matter, it was about allowing yourself to have a voice and by the end, every woman joined in and had a smile on their face and every one was fantastic.
We love to include our open mic throughout the day and to include a general session where women speak about whatever they want on any topic. for many women, this is their first time speaking to a large group. When we first started these, we wondered how successful they would be but women love them!
We share our responsibilities on the national committee and were very ably steered throughout the day by co-conveners Margaret Young and Mairi Tulbure (both bottom middle in the photo above). Everyone learning from each other and having the right to have their contribution listened to. We don't agree on everything all the time but we discuss, listen and make positive contributions to support each other and take our ideas forward.
Along with a day full of fun and laughter and serious policy making, we gave everyone a goodie bag to take home.
A day like this is not possible without a great team working not only on the day but in the lead up to the event. Lesley Orr is not in the photo below with the rest of the team as she was unable to attend on the day due to illness but she was a key part of our team too.