SCOTLAND’S Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is the latest big name to throw her weight behind the country’s prestigious Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

She has pledged her sponsorship and support for the awards, launched by Scotland women’s charities, which is also supported by The National as media partner and on the judging panel, in a campaign to recognise journalists and bloggers across the country producing high-quality work which tackles violence and gender inequality.

As the deadline for nominations, Saturday, October 31, is fast approaching, parliamentary sponsor Dugdale has agreed to host and speak at the awards ceremony on December 10 when the winners will be announced. She said: “The way media represents women influences how women are treated across our society.

“This is a responsibility that all too often media can forget in the rush to make a snappy headline.

“We see perpetrators depicted as strangers and monsters, despite evidence telling us that women are more likely to experience sexual violence at the hands of someone they know.

“In a Scotland where every 10 minutes a woman reports a domestic abuse incident, and in a world where one in four women will experience violence against them simply for their gender, surely we should be doing more to challenge this misrepresentation?

“The media can reinforce stereotypes or it can tackle them, and in the case of tackling violence against women, responsible media can change attitudes and help eradicate gender based violence.”

Dugdale insisted there was a problem with how women are “depicted generally” and that it “goes beyond the reporting of violent crimes against women”.

She added: “Whether it is a woman leader who is asked about her choice in clothing rather than her choice of policies or the sexualisation of women across pictures in newspapers – all of this contributes to a society where the quiet discrimination of women is considered normal.

“Every time we challenge this, we come a step closer to a fairer society.”

The awards, now in the third year, is organised by Zero Tolerance with the support of National Union of Journalists Scotland, White Ribbon Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Engender, Everyday Victim Blaming, Women 50:50, Rape Crisis Scotland, Women for Independence and former Scottish Socialist Party MSP Carolyn Leckie.

As a campaigner for equality, Dugdale is also heavily involved in the Women 50:50 campaign, which is fighting to get more women on public boards because in Scotland women make up only 36 per cent of public boards, less than 35 per cent of MSPs and 24 per cent of councillors.

Dugdale added: “Challenging the inequalities that women face is what has driven me to be a campaigner on feminist issues and why I co-launched the Women 50:50 campaign.

“The campaign is fighting for 50 per cent women in parliament, councils and public boards – because women deserve to be equal partners in our country’s decision-making. It is not enough to ask women to work even harder to get to the top when there are institutionalised barriers in their way – it is our duty to remove these barriers.

“I firmly believe that if we have more women leaders, we will change negative perceptions towards women and we will come a very significant step closer to real equality for women.”

The organisers said they were “delighted” to have Dugdale on board for their third annual Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

Jenny Kemp, the co-director of Zero Tolerance said: “Women in leadership roles are often subject to sexist behaviour from the press, and it’s really important for them to support good journalism which calls out sexism and challenges the violence and the abuse it encourages.

“Zero Tolerance has worked with Kezia to promote gender equality for many years now, including by co-sponsoring an intern, hosted in her office, to organise a conference for young feminists.”

Callum Hendry, the campaign co-ordinator for White Ribbon Scotland, said: “Kezia Dugdale MSP’s support of the Write To End Violence Against Women awards shows how highly the initiative is valued by our most prominent politicians and we are lucky to have her support.”

The public are encouraged to submit good writing for consideration for the awards – and examples of bad writing for the wooden spoon award – through the website at