Preventing and addressing violence against women demands a fundamental change in societal attitudes. Women can’t do it on their own, if we could, we would have sorted it out by now. We need everyone’ – Ruth Maguire, MSP

On Thursday 27th October 2016 at the Tackling Domestic Abuse conference in Edinburgh, Ruth Maguire MSP delivered a keynote address focusing on the issue of prevention and the role that young people have to play in prevention measures.

Ruth’s speech drew on the vast experience gained through her former roles as a local councillor and Chairperson of the North Ayrshire Violence Against Women Partnership, in particular, her key involvement in the production of the Partnership’s Violence Against Women Strategy 2015-2018.

The speech also stressed the need for collective responsibility across society to tackle the wider issue of gender inequality, which underlies all forms of violence against women. Emphasising that this requires a fundamental change in attitudes, Ruth drew attention to the fact that, until just a few decades ago, it was still accepted, as it had been for centuries before, that a man had the right to rape his wife, and urged them to take courage and heart from how much attitudes can change.

On this note, Ruth stressed how the education of our young people in particular has a crucial role to play in changing attitudes and preventing domestic abuse. Ruth highlighted as an example the amazing work of North Ayrshire Women’s Aid in engaging with young people in high schools around their attitudes to relationships.