I spent (a very packed and interesting) weekend at the Scottish Green Party conference. More on this shortly, but one of the highlights was learning more about women’s issues in Scotland.
Scottish Women’s Aid had a stall at the conference, and a very hardhitting campaign with its “Save Violence Against Women” pledge. Up until now, they’ve had funding and support that we can only envy in England.
The Rape Crisis Specific Fund has provided £50,000 per rape crisis centre per year across Scotland to ensure a basic level of service, also funding the creation of five new rape crisis centres. The Children’s Services Fund has provided more than 100 children’s workers.
But they are clearly concerned that cutbacks mean this is all at risk.
Steady funding has, however, enable them to build real political muscle and lobbying capacity – again something that in England we can only envy.
They had an excellent paper from the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, which campaigns for Gender Budget Analysis in public spending decisions and budget-setting processes “as a means of ensuring both compliance with the requirements for gender impact assessment (Equality Act 2006), and as a means of ensuring political commitment to gender equality are translated into decisions about resource allocation and budgetary commitments.”
A Women’s Aid report identifies just over £8.3m a year spent by the Scottish government on violence against women, the current allocation of which will run out in March 2011. (A study in the UK in 2008 estimated domestic abuse costs in England and Wales £40bn per annum.) A study, also there, found that the cost savings in providing housing and support to women fleeing domestic violence was almost £19,000 per individual women, twice the cost of providing support.” Additionally: “When women threatened by domestic violence were able to access support services and leave an abusive partner, the risk of further assults was reduced by 80%.”
They also had an interesting summary report from a census conducted over 24 hours on September 24, 2009. In that time 365 women and 360 children were in Scottish refuges, 642 women and 307 children and young people were being supported by Women’s Aid, 101 women contacted Women’s Aid for the first time, and 12 women and 5 children had to be turned away from refuges due to lack of space. Sadly, four women had to be turned away because they had “no recourse to public funds” as a result of their immigvration status. “Most are forced to return to their partner.”