by Nicola Brown
Edinburgh’s Women’s Aid yesterday discussed the possible future role of men in the organisation at a meeting held after concerns were raised about the future of the charity.
According to the United Nations, up to 70 percent of women will experience violence in their lifetime. Edinburgh’s Women’s Aid is one charity that has fought to combat this issue by offering practical and emotional support to women and children suffering from domestic abuse. After facing criticism over whether they are still providing what vulnerable women need, the charity held a meeting yesterday to discuss the issues. One of the solutions discussed was to involve men directly for the first time in the organisations work.
A committee member at Edinburgh’s Women’s Aid said: “We often have people asking why Women’s Aid doesn’t offer certain services, or what we actually do now. People wonder whether we’re still relevant. So we thought, right, let’s open up the debate, ask the questions and see if we can all come up with some ideas to move forward.” Another Women’s Aid member said: “Men are part of the problem, so they need to be part of the solution.”
The Open Space event was held yesterday at St Andrew’s and St George’s church on George Street. The day was an invite only affair, titled: ‘What Next?’ Representatives from Police Scotland, the Local Council and key members from other domestic abuse charities including ‘Streetwork’ met to discuss the pressing issues decided by the guests themselves.
One of the issues voiced was whether men should have a more direct dealing with the charity. Currently, there are no men employed by Women’s Aid and any new vacancies specify that only women may apply. Whilst the charity currently works with men from other services, many of the industry specialists agreed that hiring men directly could be beneficial. This came alongside the debate that Women’s Aid suffers from an ‘out of touch’ public image.
A representative from another domestic abuse charity said: “People come to us and some do not want to turn to Women’s Aid because the perception is that they only help women ready to leave their partners. There is still this preconceived idea that Women’s Aid is run by ‘man-haters’.”
The general consensus remained that women should still form the majority of board members and employees for the charity. One attendee spoke of the needs of the women and children being the priority, but that positive male role models have been proven to be beneficial to some of the women and especially to the children.
The Women’s Aid event comes in amongst current global efforts to end gender based abuse. Monday the 25th of November, was the start of Unite’s campaign, International Violence Against Women’s Day. It precedes a sixteen-day global campaign to raise awareness, with statistics showing that 1 in 3 women worldwide are the victims of abuse. Secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, said: “Violence against women and girls directly affects individuals while harming our common humanity.”