With a theme of ‘The Influence of Women’, 380 women from across Scotland will celebrate International Women’s Day at the Scottish Parliament this weekend. The organisers argue that women far too often underestimate their ability to inspire and motivate others. By bringing groups for all over the country together, the Scottish Women’s Convention aims to explore what women do and the impact this has on communities, towns, cities and Scotland as a whole.

elaine smith MSP 2The Parliament’s Deputy Presiding Officer, Elaine Smith MSP, welcomed the planned visit and congratulated the Convention on its 10th Anniversary. “This forum,” she said, “is important in bringing women from all walks of life into their Parliament to discuss issues that affect them in their everyday lives. This year’s debate will celebrate women who have overcome barriers in education, employment, social and political life to influence the world they live in. The inspirational line-up of speakers seeks to encourage all women to support each other, challenge inequalities and realise that they too can make a real difference at local, national and international levels.”

The Convention was set up by the then Scottish Executive in recognition of the need to ensure women’s voices are reaching the policy makers. It continues to work to develop ways in which to ensure women in Scotland can influence the policies which affect them and their families.

Agnes Tolmie, who chairs the Convention added that women needed “to celebrate their achievements – they need the time, space and confidence to acknowledge the difference they make on a day to day basis. liz_lochheadBy bringing women together in the unique setting of the Scottish Parliament, the SWC aims to ensure that those attending achieve this through listening, talking and participating during the day.”

A key participant in event will be Liz Lochhead – Scotland’s Makar (left). She said she was delighted to be taking part and also to be reading “some fierce and polemical pieces of my old rhyming satire which unfortunately remain all too relevant thirty years on.”

The former MP, Maria Fyfe, pointed out that, in this rational and scientific age, “we still have people exercising powers who believe the ability to run any organisation is an inherently male characteristic, thus demonstrating their own incapacity for lucid thinking. I am looking forward to getting together with the SWC at their International Women’s Day event when we honour what women have done, and do today, to make a better world.”

For Mette Kindberg, the President of UNI World – Europe Women’s Committee, it was a proud moment for her “to speak at the SWC’s event around International Women’s Day. I have great respect for the way the SWC organise their event and help to put focus on women’s issues – not only in Scotland but over the whole world. I’m glad for the solidarity the SWC hereby show all the world’s women. With women like you, there is hope for the goal of equal rights and opportunities for women to be achieved.”