COLLABORATION

Partnering to create a ‘Fearless Glasgow’

SOURCE: Bruce Dixon/Unsplash
Universities in Scotland are joining a national bid to end gender-based violence.

Universities and colleges across the West of Scotland have come together to tackle gender-based violence in a multi-agency partnership called “Fearless Glasgow”.

The partnership will combine the resources of the learning institutions, Police Scotland, the Scottish government, and a host of other organisations, to raise awareness on sexual violence and offer enhanced support to over 150,000 students. 

Fearless Glassgow members will work together on campaigns, share ideas, and work alongside specialist support groups to improve access to help and information on gender-based violence across all of their campuses. 

Their aim is to affect cultural change by challenging harmful behaviours and attitudes towards gender-based violence, which covers incidents such as rape and sexual assault, coercive control, psychological violence, sexual harassment, intimidation, and verbal abuse. Gender-based violence also extends to discrimination, bullying, and stalking, both physical and mental, through text messages, emails and social media posts.

“Universities have a vital role to play in tackling gender-based violence wherever it may occur, and we are committed to ensuring we have an environment where every student has access to help and support,” said University of Strathclyde Secretary & Compliance Officer Dr Veena O’Halloran in a media release

“As a socially-progressive university, we are delighted to offer our support to the partnership.”

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The partnership comes following new figures highlighting the seriousness of gender-based violence, with 56 murders reported as a result of it over the past six years, an average of nine people per year. Of that total, nearly three-quarters of the victims were female and among those cases, 82 percent of perpetrators were male.

Across the 2017/18 period, there were a staggering 59,541 incidents of domestic abuse recorded in Scotland alone, with 82 percent of them female victims.

Writing last week in The Scotsman, Scottish Government minister for older people and equalities Christina McKelvie said such figures were concerning and a stark reminder of the need for a consolidated approach to end gender-based violence.

“If we do this, then surely we can one day soon see a Scotland – and a wider world – where everyone is equally safe,” she wrote.

Fearless Glasgow is one of many efforts to help the government advance this mission.

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For its involvement in the partnership, the University of Strathclyde has created the Equally Safe in Higher Education (ESHE) toolkit, a collection of free materials and resources developed specifically for Scottish universities that aims to eradicate gender-based violence in higher education.

According to McKelvie, the government has provided guidance for all universities and colleges in Scotland to adopt and adapt the toolkit towards their approach to the issue.

Apart from Strathclyde, the learning institutions involved are the Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Glasgow, the University of the West of Scotland, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Glasgow School of Art.

The further education sector is represented by Glasgow Clyde College, Ayrshire College, Glasgow Kelvin College, and the City of Glasgow College while the organisations involved include Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis, Glasgow Violence against Women Partnership, The Emily Test, Archway, and Equally Safe. 

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“As a multi-agency partnership, we are committed to ending gender-based violence in all its forms by challenging harmful behaviours and attitudes alongside supporting those affected and building confidence,” said Fearless Glassgow chair and Glasgow Caledonian University Director of Student Life Jackie Main.

“Our common purpose is to deliver safer communities, culture change and a Fearless Glasgow.”

The initiative is based on a successful model launched in Edinburgh early last year.

“As the area of Scotland with the biggest student population, it’s great to see universities and colleges coming to work together and support each other and their students,” Universities Scotland Deputy Director David Lott said.

“Working with stakeholders will ensure that tackling gender-based violence remains high on the agenda.”