IWD 2021: Meet the women students making change at Edinburgh Uni
They have been campaigning and giving their time to a wide range of causes
Today is International Women’s Day! To celebrate, we’re showcasing women at Edinburgh Uni campaigning for change and giving their time to good causes.
These truly phenomenal women are working on a wide range of issues – including sexual violence, period poverty, and on-campus racism. Their work has directly improved the lives of so many by empowering others, raising awareness, and directly taking action themselves.
The Edinburgh Tab asked these women to tell us a bit about what they do and why it’s important. We hope you’re inspired this International Women’s Day.
Stealthing Research Team, CERT
Rebecca Gascgoine, Bella Henricks, Rhona Gowans, Kate Astbury, and Kirsty Wilson
We are conducting research into stealthing in Scotland, with a focus on ascertaining public awareness of stealthing, and analysing how stealthing can impact a survivor.
Stealthing is a form of sexual violence in which a barrier method of contraception (such as a condom) is damaged or removed without the other partner’s consent. As such, stealthing violates the bodily autonomy of the non-consenting individual and exposes them to increased risks of which they are not aware of or do not consent to (such as pregnancy or STIs).
We want to amplify the voices of those in Scotland who have survived stealthing by using their experiences to push for an awareness campaign in schools and universities and lobbying the Scottish Government for a policy amendment so survivors can seek the justice they deserve.
Keep up to date with CERT on @CERTScotland on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
Feiya Hu, Co-Founder of Racism Unmasked Edinburgh
My name is Feiya Hu, I am 23 years old, Scottish-Chinese, and from Edinburgh, Scotland, where I’m currently studying medicine. I am the co-founder of Racism Unmasked Edinburgh, a growing online community and organisation giving a voice to East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) people in the UK.
We formed in December 2020 following a series of vicious racial attacks on members of our community and we decided that something must be done about it. Anti-ESEA attacks are at an all time high, with figures showing an increase of 300 per cent in the UK, and 1900 per cent in the USA. These are only reported figures. Unreported figures are no doubt much higher than this.
As a community we have to stand together to fight against racism. Asians must be included in anti-racist work and as an organisation we are doing this through raising awareness for different issues we face, education, and empowering people to embrace their heritages and cultures.
Keep up to date with Racism Unmasked on @RacismUnmaskedEdinburgh on Instagram
Anna Cowan, Founder of Girls Against
My name is Anna, I’m a 4th year Sociology and Politics student, and I’m a co-founder of the campaign Girls Against! We formed back in 2015 after a group of us had discussed our mutual experiences of sexual harassment at gigs, and ever since we have continued to fight to eradicate sexual assault at live music events. We host events, provide resources such as the Bystander Booklet and offer support to survivors and anyone who needs it. Our campaign has been featured on BBC News, The Guardian, Vice and more.
My passion for the campaign has never gone away. When I think back to my 16 year old self, I want to protect her, but I also want to remind her of how much amazing work she is about to do and how many people she will help with Girls Against. Hearing stories from people about how we have made them feel valid, safe and empowered is what keeps us going, and we won’t stop until gigs are a safe place for everyone regardless of their gender.
Keep up to date with Girls Against on @girls.against on Instagram
Period Poverty University of Edinburgh
Saffron Roberts, Rosie Martland, and Lauren Galligan
Period Poverty U of E is a Scottish Voluntary organisation working to end period poverty in Scotland. We started off very small, with Saffron Roberts, our founder, and a little pink collection box. Saffron would attend events to raise awareness of period poverty whilst also collecting sanitary products in her box and distributing them to shelters and food banks in need across Edinburgh. She was joined by Rosie Martland and Lauren Galligan who helped to run collections, donations and a Bloody Big Brunch on Galentines day 2020.
One in ten girls worldwide suffer from period poverty, meaning they do not have access to, or cannot afford, suitable sanitary products. The direct and indirect effects of this are devastating – 137,700 girls miss school annually because of period poverty, and menstruating people young and old miss out on invaluable opportunities throughout their lifetimes as a result. We believe that no girl should miss out because of their period, and we will continue to advocate for menstruating people until period poverty is completely abolished.
Keep up to date with Period Poverty U of E on @periodpovertyuofe on Instagram
Edinburgh Anonymous was founded in the summer of 2020 with the aim of providing a safe and anonymous outlet for students to share their experiences of sexual violence. Whilst empowering survivors remains our primary objective, the process of collectively grouping together these stories has resulted in the account simultaneously working as an educational platform to raise awareness. Sharing the details of these experiences highlights the variety and frequency of sexual offences faced by many students in Edinburgh and has hopefully started a long overdue conversation within the student community surrounding this issue.
Keep up to date with EdiAnon on @edi_anonymous
Amy Goodman, Development Officer for Sanitree
I’m a fourth year History student and Development Officer for – and was previously Director of – Sanitree. We are a social enterprise tackling period poverty through reusable menstrual pads, operating in India and Scotland.
Sanitree was also at the forefront of the fight against period poverty in Scotland. Considering how students greatly benefitted from access to free period products, we decided it was important to do what they could to extend this to the wider Scottish community, coordinating a campaign to lobby the Scottish Government to support the bill for free period products.
Additionally, I have organised the first international advocacy week to end period poverty in collaboration with Girl Up, Linda and the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund, taking place 8-15th March.
Keep up to date with Sanitree on @sanitree on Instagram
Consent Classes Team, CERT
Yasmin Malhotra, Hannah Rogerson, Maddie Lloyd, Amelia Lockhart-Hourigan, and Catriona Walker
The CERT consent classes team is working in order to develop mandatory sexual consent classes for all University of Edinburgh students. We aim to have their classes promote healthy perceptions about sexual consent in order to make university life safer and more progressive for all students. We feel that raising awareness of sexual violence as well as educating young people of how to approach sexual situations in a healthy way is vital to promoting safe sex attitudes and in turn helping to prevent sexual violence.
Keep up to date with CERT on @CERTScotland on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
Mutual Aid Trans Edinburgh (MATE)
MATE are providing direct support by and for queer and trans people in Edinburgh during the COVID lockdown, focusing on queer and trans-specific support needs. We were established to help address and overcome any institutional barriers LGBTQ+ people might experience when accessing support.
Keep up to date with MATE on @MATEdinburgh on Instagram
Lucy Grieve, co-founder and head of policy at Back Off Scotland
My name is Lucy Grieve. I am a third year Social Anthropology and Social Policy undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh, and I am Co-Founder and Head of Policy for Back Off Scotland. Back Off Scotland is a grassroots, student-led campaign advocating for legislation to enforce 150 metre buffer zones around hospitals and clinics providing abortion services across Scotland.
As an Edinburgh native, I was shocked by the resumption of anti-choice protests at the Chalmers Centre in the midst of a pandemic. These protests constitute harassment, they are intimidating, and they work to undo the decades of effort that won us the abortion rights we have. I have a deep-rooted passion for reproductive justice. I attribute my interest to a number of reasons, not least my Mum who always made sure that I was informed about reproductive and sexual health whilst growing up and fostered a non-judgemental environment where I was able to discuss it openly with her!
Keep up to date with Back Off Scotland on their Instagram
Fatime Krasniqi, Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre & Rape Crisis Scotland
I’m a fourth year history student, and when I first became a student at Edinburgh, I was surprised and deeply upset by how rife and normalised sexual violence was on campus, which motivated me to volunteer for rape crisis centres.
Three years on I currently sit on the board of directors for both the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre (ERCC) and Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS). At the ERCC I chair the Engagement, Profile, Promotion and Fundraising team which gives me an opportunity to raise awareness on sexual violence and issues pertinent to survivors both on campus and around the city through campaigns and various other activities.
Keep up to date with Rape Crisis Edinburgh on @edinburghrapecrisis on Instagram; and Rape Crisis Scotland on @rapecrisisscot on Instagram