THE deluge of reports, headlines and personal accounts of violence against women that have emerged in the last few months have been harrowing. The allegations against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein sparked many women to use the hashtag #MeToo, and share their personal experiences of harassment, abuse and sexual violence. The Westminster revelations followed and barely a day has passed since without a high-profile man making the news for alleged predatory or inappropriate behaviour towards women.

For some – men in particular – these gruesome few months have illuminated the true scale of misogyny that for women is a lived experience. The grinding, unrelenting bleakness of it all has encouraged a well-overdue national conversation about where we go from here in tackling violence against women and girls. If the consequences of an unequal society were an issue that until recently was universally unrecognised, then the task before us would be monumental. It would be difficult to know where to start.

Thankfully, it’s not. In Scotland, our third sector organisations: charities; campaign groups and experts not only understand these power dynamics and how they manifest themselves but they also work tirelessly to change them. While the public consciousness of violence against women may ebb and flow with the changing news cycle, the work of these organisations does not.

Their expertise and influence helps shape public policy and their involvement in parliamentary proceedings ensures that our MSPs have informed and responsible debates.

This year, the ground-breaking Zero Tolerance marked its 25th Anniversary. In conjunction with Scottish Women’s Aid it launched a campaign with photographer Laura Dodsworth to create a series of stock photographs depicting the insidious and unseen reality of domestic abuse. The One Thousand Words photographs show that domestic abuse is multi-faceted. The campaign is valuable in helping us move away from those media images we are accustomed to seeing to illustrate domestic abuse: the clenched male fist or bruised black eye.

Rape Crisis Scotland also created an innovative and relevant campaign which gained widespread coverage. The I Just Froze campaign sought to raise public awareness that there is no right or wrong way for women to react to being raped, either during or after. They also marked 10 years since the launch of their helpline and since then have responded to almost 41,000 calls and texts from people seeking support or information about sexual violence.

Scotland’s feminist organisation Engender has been instrumental in driving progress in legislation and policy in Scotland. The technical nature of its behind-the-scenes work often means that the public aren’t aware of just how effective it is. Through responding to government consultations and working with Parliament, Engender is an invaluable vehicle for change. This year, along with Scottish Women’s Aid and other like-minded organisations, Engender secured a commitment from the Scottish Government to consider offering individual, not household, payments of Universal Credit. The groups highlighted the fact that 89 per cent of women who experience abuse by a partner also experience financial abuse. The Scottish Government cited this as a key reason for its decision to consider split payments, which they are now in the process of working out how to implement.

Our third sector organisations’ many successes this year in tackling violence against women ought to make us feel proud and grateful. There is much to celebrate: the response to the rape clause and the family cap; the launch of the Equally Safe strategy document which outlines a gendered approach to tackling gender-based violence; the Domestic Abuse Bill passing through Holyrood and the painstaking work that went into creating Scottish Women’s Aid’s beautiful new website .

Earlier this month, the First Minister’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls was launched. It brings together the expertise of members from the third sector as well as business and government to advise the Scottish Government on the actions that are required to tackle gender inequality.

Scots can be proud of this country’s successes in the arts, engineering, invention and innovation. We should also acknowledge the wealth of talent and the commitment of those organisations working to promote the equality of opportunity, dignity and safety of all our citizens. Their campaigns, their courage, their ideas and their hard work all ensure that Scotland will continue to keep making progress in tackling the causes and consequences of gender inequality.