On Friday 9th March, the Young Women Lead team (introduced in previous posts) gathered for our first Committee Meeting in Scottish Parliament. This was a pretty exciting day, as most of our training thus far had been preparing us to sit around the table and really get to grips with some difficult issues. The issue taken forward from the previous training session was Violence Against Women – this had been narrowed down to focus on the challenges facing girls in schools.
Arriving at Parliament, we were shown through to the large committee room, and given an introduction to the agenda and the witnesses coming in. Thanks to the brilliant Parliament clerking team, there were five different experts coming in to share the research and experiences they had around the subject. They had also provided us with a brief beforehand so that we were all confident with the specifics and had an idea of what sort of questions we should be raising.
We were also lucky enough to be joined by Linda Fabiani MSP as our Convenor (the person who chairs the meeting and chooses people to ask questions). She’s a very experienced MSP and she was able to offer lots of brilliant advice to people on what sort of questions are helpful. With such a huge and complex topic, it’s very easy to get stuck in the details so having a Convenor to guide the discussion was really helpful. She also made the whole team feel very at home in the Committee Room – not an easy task with so many microphones, cameras and rules to deal with!
The issue of Violence Against Women is a far reaching and complex one, but it was very encouraging to see that the Scottish Parliament is taking such active steps to combat it, and that they are keen to hear what young women have to say on the topic. If you want to watch the Committee in full, it’s available on Facebook and the ScotParl TV Archive (I think my knees make it into shot a few times but that might be all – sorry to any family members watching) and stay tuned to see what happens in our next Committee meeting.