Black History Month - Scotland's Women's Sector

Black History Month - Scotland's Women's Sector

Violence against women and girls still affects too many women in Scotland. This violence is exacerbated by other forms of prejudice such as racism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, classism and fatphobia.

Violence against women and girls is preventable. It is caused by gender inequality, so by tackling gender inequality we can take steps towards ending violence against women for good.

But tackling gender inequality on its own is not enough - to end violence against women we must tackle all inequalities.

For Black History Month we want to highlight the work being done across Scotland’s women’s sector to centre the experience and voices of Black and minority ethnic women in Scotland, and to ensure that these experiences are embedded throughout all work, not sidelined or an afterthought.

We at Zero Tolerance are by no means experts in this field, but we would like to take some time this month to reflect on what the women’s sector in Scotland is currently doing, celebrate good work, and think about what more can be done

We have chosen some examples to highlight, but there is a range of other work going on in this area in the women’s sector.


Amina: The Muslim Women’s Resource Centre

The I Speak for Myself campaign is a travelling exhibition of Muslim women’s voices challenging misconceptions and stereotypes in hopes of reducing inequality and sexual discrimination not only within the Muslim community but also in wider society.

Find out more about the campaign here.


Close the Gap

Still not visible: Research on black and minority ethnic women's experience of employment in Scotland

Still Not Visible: Research on Black and minority ethnic women's experiences of employment in Scotland

This year, Close the Gap published a fantastic report that outlined the way BME women face discrimination in employment, and that this discrimination is informed by gender and race.

The research found that 72% of survey respondents had experienced racism, discrimination, racial prejudice and/or bias in the workplace. Just over half of respondents who had experienced this did not report it. Of those who did report, less than a quarterwere satisfied with how their complaint was handled.

Read the full report here.


When women speak I hear

This year a new anthology, When Women Speak I Hear, was published with poems and prints from nine women. This project was created by Building Equality Book Project, a collaboration between Edinburgh Women’s Aid, Shakti Women’s Aid and the Scottish Poetry Library.

Find out about the anthology here.


Pass The Mic

A database of women of colour experts who can be contacted for media comment or other projects. The list includes educators, academics, researchers, campaigners, policy makers, community activists, writers, workers, and carers.

Find out about the project here.


Any Woman, Anywhere

This year, for International Women’s Day, Zero Tolerance, Amina: The Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, The Church of Scotland, and Summerhall created Any Woman, Anywhere to raise awareness of the prevalence of violence against women, the different forms this violence takes, and the extent to which it can affect all kinds of women.

Find out more about the campaign here.


Young Women Lead

Young Women Lead

For the past 2 years, YWCA Scotland - The Young Women's Movement have run the Young Women Lead project, a leadership programme aiming to increase young women’s political participation. Following discussions between The Young Women's Movement and the Scottish Parliament, and in consultation with the ethnic minority staff network at the Parliament, the decision was made that this year would only be open to women from ethnic minorities.

Find out more about the project here.


Next Black History Month

These projects are important and very needed, yet we should not be complacent - there is still so much work to do as a sector to continue to do better.

Next Black History Month we hope there will be even more projects to choose from when looking for good examples of practice.


How can we do better as a sector?

Educate ourselves

It is important to ensure that we don’t leave the labour of education to Black and minority ethnic colleagues and friends. It is everyone’s individual responsibility to educate themselves on racism and work to dismantle it.

We put together a short list of materials that are useful at the beginning of this education.


No Problem Here: Understanding Racism in Scotland

By Satnam Virdee, Maureen McBride, Minna Liinpää, and Neil Davidson. This book unpacks the myth the racism is not an issue in Scotland, or that it is at least not a big one. Read more about the book here.


Why I am no longer talking to white people about race

By Reni Eddo-Lodge. This book starts with an introduction to Black British history, as the majority of information about racism that we see is North American. It goes on to explain in a really understandable way white privilege, and how racism intersects with feminism and class politics. Read more about the book here.



By Akala. This book talks about British history, including the evils of the Empire, and how that past shapes racism in our present. Read more about this book here.



By Afua Hirsch. This book is part memoir and part commentary on existing as a Black woman in Britain. Read more about the book here.


How To Talk About Racism, Sexism And Bigotry With Your Friends And Family

By Jennifer L. Pozner and Illustration by Katherine Lam. Read this blog here.


Mona Chalabi

Instagram account that posts artful graphs illustrating racism, colourism, and sexism.


Decolonize myself

Facebook account that shares videos, articles, art, and poetry that explore colonization, decolonization, healing, through current events, idle no more, and first nations culture.


Hays 2018 UK Diversity and Inclusion report

Hays research found that 60% of respondents with Black heritage felt their ethnicity limited their chances of being selected for employment in the last year. Respondents also identified that inclusive recruitment, especially recruitment of diverse leadership is needed. The report identifies helpful steps necessary for inclusive recruitment and workplace culture.

Read the report here.


Engage with Black and minority ethnic experts

It is important to ensure that when seeking to be more inclusive, that we are not tokenistic (read a blog with an introduction to this topic here). When developing policy or projects, we need to build inclusion into the process - not come to it as an afterthought. And when we are engaging with Black and minority ethnic women experts it is crucial that they are financially compensated for their time and expertise.



The whole women’s sector is underfunded, but groups specifically run by and for Black and minority ethnic women women are disproportionately affected by this.

You can donate to the expert groups mentioned in this blog here:

Amina: The Muslim Women’s Resource Centre

Shakti Women’s Aid

Hemat Gryffe Women's Aid


This blog is just a list of starting points. They are not exhaustive and they are up for discussion and debate. These conversations began in our team while developing our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan because we know there is still so much work to do.


Have we missed something?

If you have any useful resources or tips please just let us know – we’d love to include it here!

If you have suggestions for additions, or any thoughts on this blog please email

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