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  • Writer's picturealicjapawluczuk

My 5 TOP female change-makers in Scotland (who also happen to be my pals!)

To celebrate this year’s women day, I decided to write about women that inspire me in my work and every-day life. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about 10 inspirational females, whose work or presence has had a positive impact on my life. Firstly, my list will covers my 5 top female change-makers in Scotland (who also happen to be my pals). Secondly, I mention some of famous feminist icons. Happy (belated) International Women's Day :)

I am a feminist. I believe in equality, fight for social inclusion and I’m keen to share these ideas in my work or in everyday situations. The idea of voice has always been at the centre of my work. In most of my projects, I would often (if not always) emphasise the need of providing the voiceless communities with tools to share their stories.

Feminist’s community could be described as one of the groups, whose views have often been excluded from the mainstream debates (for example, here is a recent photo of 6 male MPs discussing abortion law in Poland) . I’m not going to add too many y links/articles to support my views with some evidence – but if you are curious how often women’s opinions are challenged or ridiculed, just have a quick search for #feminism on Twitter ( or get yourself a copy of Everyday Sexism).

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Personally, I have also been attacked and abused online many times, primarily for my pro-equality and anti-Brexit views. Few years back, I would had taken negative comments or trolling quite personally. However, as years passed and I’ve become more reassured about the support that I get – I became more resilient to the (ever present) online (and offline) abuse.

So, how have I managed to adapt and stay committed to sharing my beliefs? How have I learnt how to navigate in this post-truth era?

Well, firstly, I would not be able to stay truthful to my beliefs, if it wasn’t for some of my amazing friends and local change-makers. These include Jennifer Jones , Jo Zawadzka, #EndoSisters , Ursula Cheng and Kira Weir.

Secondly, I have become relatively resilient thanks to the work some of the iconic female figures such as Simone Debaviour, Maya Derren, Bjork, Deborah Frances White and a Polish artist called Siksa (I briefly describe their work at the end of this post).

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My personal top 5 Rising Female Stars & Change – Makers

1. #EndoSisters online community is a group of endometriosis sufferers, who have provided me with an enormous amount of support over the last few years. Suffering from a chronic condition means that I’m often in quite a lot of pain. During these difficult moments, I have been able to discuss my issues with endo-fighters from all over the world. The community is extremely important in my life and I’m sure that I would not be where I’m now without their support. Seeing this vibrant and inclusive group of women not only proactively fighting with the condition but advocating for improved care and endometriosis research is extremely inspiring – thank you endo-sisters for all your support!

2. Jo Zawadzka is not only a friend of mine, but a prolific figure in the migrant’s community in the United Kingdom. Although Jo is extremely modest and doesn’t tend to talk a lot about her direct contribution (instead she would always say – “it’s not about me, but the community, I would not be able to do what I do without their support”), it is evident that projects that she co-led such as the Polish Cultural Festival Association, Bloody Foreigners and a more recent one called EU Citizen Rights Project (co-organised with another super inspirational person Dorota Peszkowska), have had a positive impact on how migrant and other marginalised communities are perceived in the United Kingdom. Jo is a born change-maker and a feminist. I’ve learnt a lot simply by observing her professional practice and absorbing her every-day ethics. Deep inside, I believe that Jo will be nominated to a Nobel prize one day. In the meantime, I’d like to thank her for her work and strength, which has definitely inspired me to stick to my beliefs.

3. Dr Jennifer Jones is a lecturer in Service Design at Scotland’s first accredited Service Design Academy based at Dundee and Angus College, a freelance digital media practitioner and independent researcher. Jennifer is one of the most influential people on Twitter in Scotland and runs an organisation called Media for Communities. Her Twitter account provides a clear picture of Jennifer as a person – bright, witty, creative and brave. Jennifer’s activism and digital storytelling projects have sparked some real social change across all corners of the United Kingdom. As an expert in community media, Jennifer has provided hundreds of people with tools and courage to share their stories ( you can learn more about her work here). Finally, what I admire about Jen is the fact that despite occasional online abuse, she persists to implement social change with her work, life and online activity. She is certainly not afraid to have a voice and use it. Thank you Jen for all your work, support and inspiration.

4. Kira Weir is an Edinburgh based hero and a change-maker. She works as a digital youth workers at LGBT Youth Scotland and actively contributes towards a better understanding of mental health, drugs education, harm reduction and sexual health. Kira is another person in my life who’s been always truthful to her beliefs. She is not afraid to voice her opinions in terms of equality, social inclusion and feminism. In my view, Kira is a prominent figure when it comes to community activism in Edinburgh. She is not only a good soul but overall a wonderful human being. Huge thanks to Kira for supporting me during my years here in Scotland – you are truly inspirational!

5. Ursula Cheng is a visual artist, an illustrator and creative practitioner. Ursula’s creative world is full of amazing characters, metaphors and hidden stories. I admire Ursula’s true commitment to her work and her persistence with her creative endeavours. She is not only an amazingly creative artist, but a passionate community worker who provides communities with creative tools to share their stories. Ursula is certainly an influential change-maker and a feminist in Scotland. Her work is not only unique but full of positive energy. Ursula is a great friend, who has always been extremely supportive and understanding. She inspires me not only as a committed artist, but as an extremely loving and caring human-being. Above all, she is strong and truthful to the values her work represents . Thank you for being an inspirational feminist Ursula, you and your work change lives!

Writing this blog post feels great. I seriously consider myself to be super privileged to have so many amazing women in my life. To be honest, I can easily think of at least 10 more that could be added to this list, but for practical reasons I decided to keep it short.

Finally, in terms of some other famous female public figures, who had a huge impact on my life - please see/click on the album below.

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