Leading business women lend support to Womens Aid

Group photo - from left to right - Poonam Gupta, owner of PG Paper and Scottish Asian Businesswoman of the Year, Alison Ryan, Manager of Glasgow Women's Aid, Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, Family Resource Worker, Lesley O'Brien and Charlie Taylor, of Charlie Taylor Hairdressing and former Scottish businesswoman of the year.

LEADING SCOTTISH BUSINESS WOMEN THROW THEIR BACKING TO DOMESTIC ABUSE CAMPAIGN TO MARK INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Some of Scotland’s most successful businesswomen threw their backing to the Scottish Domestic Abuse Campaign to highlight the globally-recognised International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March 2010.

The women lent their support to the campaign as some attended the launch of a powerful book produced by Glasgow Women’s Aid, which recounts personal experiences of women who have lived with and left domestic abuse. The Deputy First Minister attended the book launch to send out a message of solidarity and support for women all over Scotland, and encourage those experiencing abuse to seek help.

Produced by Glasgow Women’s Aid, A Way With Words, brings together dozens of moving stories from women who have accessed local services across the city to help them live a life free of abuse. Poems, stories and artwork commemorate their struggle and sorrow, celebrate their strengths and their new found freedom and will hopefully give a voice to those still suffering in silence.

Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said, “International Women’s Day is a major day of global celebration of women’s achievements and it is great to see so many women being open about their own experiences, in a bid to help others.”

“Sadly, many women experience abuse at the hands of a partner at some point in their lives, and we know this can mean women sometimes give up on life, and become detached from their family, friends, career and ambitions.”

“It’s important that women know they are not to blame, they are not alone and that help is available. I believe women can be strong together, are resilient and through the right support, can achieve anything, including living a life free of abuse.”

“That’s why the Scottish Government has allocated over £44 million to support a range of fantastic services. This will give more and more women the confidence to come forward for help for them and their children and we will continue to do everything we can to get the message across that there is no excuse for abuse.”

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All, was used by leading business women in Scotland to highlight how women can go on to lead fulfilling lives, even after overcoming barriers such as domestic abuse.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said, “I’m sure there are many women out there who are remaining silent about the abuse they’re experiencing. This day is about celebrating women and spreading the message that women can get through abuse and live a life free of it, with the right support and help. Women can display the most surprising strength, resilience and inner spirit to overcome problems in their life and I’ve no doubt that if women currently experiencing abuse seek the right help, they will be able to move on and live a happy, successful life.”

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise said: “In today’s world, women are making progress in all aspects of society whether in business, education, academia, sport or culture. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate some of these achievements and demonstrate to those experiencing difficult situations at home, that there can be a way out and that abuse in any form should not be tolerated.”

Linda Urquhart, chief executive of Morton Fraser and Chair of CBI Scotland, said, “Today is a day when we celebrate the contribution of women to the world. I find myself surrounded by strong successful women, many of whom have overcome considerable barriers to reach where they are today. We need to make sure that every woman has the opportunity to make the most of her life and that includes living a life free from abuse, in whatever form it takes, which cannot be tolerated in our society.”

Charlie Taylor, of Charlie Taylor Hair, Health and Beauty and former Scottish Businesswoman Award winner, said, “Women from all walks of life experience abuse but support and resources are available to help people get through their experiences and go on to live a successful, fulfilling life. As a hairdresser, I hear a lot of women’s problems and I know that just talking to someone can be a great relief. I would urge anyone to seek support from a local women’s aid group or contact the Scottish Domestic Abuse helpline, it’s just a first step to surviving abuse.”

Poonam Gupta, of PG Paper Company Ltd and Scottish Asian Businesswoman of the Year, said “There is not one reason why women should tolerate domestic abuse. Personally I have not suffered abuse, but I do know what it means to overcome a disability that left me confined to a wheelchair for a time. We can conquer many of life’s obstacles and achieve a great deal if we have the confidence and willpower to believe in ourselves. The power of the mind can overcome any physical limitations, so we should never be afraid. Neither should we be reluctant in seeking support. If the present is so ugly, then the future will only be better.”

Glasgow Women’s Aid Manager, Alison Ryan, said: “I defy anyone to read this book and not be moved and inspired by these stories. The women who have contributed hold out a candle to light the way for other women to gain the courage to make the first step to leaving an abuser. Being physically, emotionally, financially or sexually abused is an infringement of human rights and, in today’s society where liberty, humanity, dignity and respect are key principles, no women should have to tolerate abuse, especially from those who claim to love and protect them.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, contact the Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline. The helpline is free, confidential and calls from landlines cannot be traced.

The number is 0800 027 1234 or log on to the campaign website on www.domesticabuse.co.uk.

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