The 2017/18 programme

Choosing a topic

The 2017/18 participants were a diverse group geographically and culturally, but all united in their desire to change things, and improve the lives of other young women growing up in Scotland. A percentage of places in this group were reserved for partner organisations within The Young Women’s Movement’s network such as Young Scot, Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, Girlguiding Scotland, Saheliya, and LGBT Youth Scotland. Partner organisations were invited to nominate a young woman for this programme who, in turn, acts as a champion and connector between The Young Women’s Movement and other public, private and third sector organisations.

In the year of the #MeToo movement, their chosen topic of inquiry, sexual harassment in schools, looked at their local communities and lived experiences. The young women recognised that this behaviour is often intersectional and incorporates racism, disablism and homophobia.

The process

  • 16/17 February – Participant Training
  • 9 March – 1st Committee Meeting
  • 20 April – 2nd Committee Meeting
  • 18 May – 3rd Committee Meeting
  • 31 May – Report Launch
  • 30 June – Graduation

Committee meetings were chaired by Deputy Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani, with participants taking evidence and questioning Scottish Government officials. Participants carried out engagement work across Scotland, leading focus groups and running an online campaign and survey, analysing the data to create focused solutions. Over the course of their inquiry, they came up with innovative ideas to eliminate bullying, harassment and discrimination in schools, ranging from providing safe spaces to additional training for teachers and ensuring an inclusive approach recognising different needs for different groups. The final report was presented to the Scottish Government. The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education committed to ‘engage seriously on the contents of its report.’

Watch the committee meetings here:


In December 2018 the Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee decided to follow up on the Young Women Lead Committee’s report. They invited participants to give evidence on their inquiry, and then questioned Deputy First Minister John Swinney on actions that the Scottish Government had taken in light of the recommendations. The Scottish Government then followed up with a full written response to the report, which can be found here.


The participants themselves spoke highly of their personal outcomes from involvement in the programme, including: gaining confidence to try a new career; raising issues with MSPs and setting up a support network for other young women. The group remain involved in the work of both Young Women Lead and the Scottish Parliament, and are in regular contact through a social media group where they have created a positive and supportive peer network.


‘I feel I understand how I can get involved in politics and I feel hugely optimistic that space has been made for this initiative. Its invaluable for giving experience, understanding and also for providing role models! I have been able to talk to my peers and say that yes there is space for our voices to be heard and to action change.’ – Jane Morrison, participant. 



Convener of the Young Women Lead Committee: Linda Fabiani MSP – Deputy Presiding Officer

Esme Leitch Alexandra Ramsay Iona Wilson
Hailey Maxwell Erin Mwembo Ruth Boyle
Hannah Forsyth Gabrielle Blackburn Jane Morrison
Audrey Elisabeth Katie Williams Katie Tweedie
Zoë Tupling Fariha Saeed Lisa Clark
Catriona Carter Naziyah Mahmood Michelle Fisher
Mina Baird Elena Soper Sara Preston
Emily Davis Alexandra Stevens Naomi Munn
Ava Harrison Martha Barr

Parliamentary staff

  • Hayley Forrester – Project Lead
  • Rachel Edwards – Clerk of the Young Women Lead Committee
  • Gillian Baxendine – Senior Managment Support
  • Gerry McGuire/Hannah Glen – Social media Officer
  • Linda Peters – Media Relations Officer
  • Suzie Macpherson – Resourcer
  • Leanne Smith – Administrator

YWCA staff

  • Jemma Tracey – Programme Co-ordinator
  • Tomiwa Folorunso – Programme Intern


Main report – click on the cover below


Other documents

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