Hannah Forsyth visits Holyrood Parliament with Young Women Lead

With our mock committees rapidly approaching, the Young Women Lead team came down to Holyrood for some all-important training on how Parliamentary Committees really work.

Earlier in the scheme, we’d been well briefed on the importance of participation and how committees actually functioned as part of the government. But with only a few weeks until we would be sitting round the table and hearing evidence, it was time to get to grips with how committees functioned and what sort of roles we could expect to play. As part of the first training day, I headed over to the Scottish Parliament building for the next part of the Young Women Lead programme.

The first part of the day involved an ice breaker (and a helpful reminder of names and who had travelled the furthest – I was never likely to win that one), before sitting down with some of the Parliament Clerks to find out how they supported committees by providing information, guidance and communications. Every committee receives this support and the clerks work closely with the Convener (the person in charge of running the committees) to ensure that everything runs smoothly. The Convener has a pretty big list of jobs and responsibilities, and needs to make sure that the time spent around the Committee table can be used as effectively as possible.

We were also shown one of the lovely committee rooms used by the Parliament – they have amazing views of Holyrood park that unfortunately have to be shut during government business for privacy reasons (and probably also to stop everyone from staring at the lovely views rather than concentrating on their work).

The main part of the afternoon was spent researching, discussing and presenting different issues to take to our own mock committee. There were several strong contenders – the need for equal representation, issues surrounding mental health and the on-going problem of violence against women. It was really encouraging to see how engaged everyone was – we all had a lot of experiences and ideas to bring to the discussion, which bodes well for the mock committees to come. In the end, the issue taken forward was Violence Against Women, and we will be discussing this in the committees over the next few months – keep an eye on this blog to see how we get on!