woman sits writing in a forest

Photo by Doug Robichaud @killer_dogma

In the spirit of empowering women and closing the gender gap this International Women’s Day, is it time we looked more closely at the picture in our own cities, towns and rural communities?

You may remember back in 2017, BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour commissioned a report into the best places to be a women in the UKThe report examined eight broad indicators, including:

  • Income
  • Housing affordability
  • Personal wellbeing
  • Safety
  • Education
  • Life expectancy
  • Environment
  • Culture

It grouped women into three age groups: ‘young women’ aged 18-30, ‘women in the middle age group’ 30-65 and ‘older’ women aged over 65, examining some additional factors specific to age, such as ‘school quality’ and the ‘local area age profile’.

Overall, Scotland came out top – East Dunbartonshire was named as the best place in the UK to be a women, with East Renfrewshire coming in second. Both were ranked in the top ten for being a young women. For women in the middle age group East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Aberdeenshire and Orkney Islands all made the top ten, with the Western Isles ranked as the top place in the UK for the personal wellbeing of women, and the Orkney Islands making it into the top five. Interestingly no Scottish area made it into the top ten for older women.

On the whole Scotland came out poorly when it the report looked at the safety of women, with Aberdeen, Dumfries & Galloway, and Glasgow all making it into the bottom five ranking in the UK for women’s safety.

Scotland also fared badly on life expectancy. Four of the bottom five worst areas for life expectancy in the UK were in Scotland: North Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire.

However, as we might expect, Scotland over performed when it came to environmental quality – where all of the top five ranking areas were located in Scotland: Moray, Argyll & Bute, Highland, North Ayrshire and Inverclyde respectively.

So what does this mean for being a woman in Scotland today? As with your likelihood of experiencing crime, your chance of attending a good school or your access to cultural activities, it seems that local communities play a big role in how we experience gender. This begs the question – what can communities do to improve the lives of women in Scotland, especially in areas where progress is most needed?