By Jackie Stahl
On Friday 22nd April, nine women represented UNHS, UNA Scotland, and UNA Glasgow at the Women of Scotland Lunch (WOSL), including: Director Gari Donn, Elena de Artacho, Hana Shono, Dorothea Christiana, Mary Ahukanna, Maryam Othman, Mhairi McClafferty, Georgia Seiti, and Jackie Stahl. WOSL is an annual lunch event that aims to bring together successful women from various sectors to celebrate their achievements and to offer a setting that fosters new connections amongst professionals. Each year the WOSL committee selects a few influential women to give a speech. This year’s speakers included: Guest Chair Hayley Millar, Professor Linda Bauld, Genevieve Edwards, and Dame Susan Rice, each of whom contributed their perspective and experiences on incorporating the WOSL 2022 theme: “Making Time.”
The Women of Scotland lunch not only provides an opportunity for women to join together and network, it also acts as a charity fundraiser. All of the proceeds from this year's lunch went directly to Bowel Cancer UK’s “Improving Surgery, Saving Lives Appeal.” Bowel Cancer UK is a charity organisation, which raises money to fund research and provide support services for bowel cancer patients. Each speaker offered her take on what it means to “make time,” linking this theme with Bowel Cancer and the tribulations it imparts on 1 in 18 women whom it impacts. The theme and charity selection were well matched this year, as it took place during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April. Moreover, speakers repeatedly mentioned the life saving effect of an early diagnosis; getting diagnosed earlier rather than later drastically increases the life span expectancy and survival rates for bowel cancer patients, making more time for patients and survivors.
Despite the well intentioned goals of this event, one aspect seemed to be missing. This year's lunch was so emphatically centred around the notion of making time, yet it entirely failed to mention the ultimate source of losing time: climate change. Science has repeatedly indicated that Earth is running out of time and so are we as creatures living on this planet. Coincidentally, the event was held on International Earth Day but still no mention of the deadly effects of climate change nor was any foresight offered by the speakers or committee on how the hundreds of accomplished women in the room should work to reverse the damage which mankind has caused by polluting our atmosphere, water, and lands. WOSL failed to capitalise on an obvious and important opportunity to raise awareness surrounding this enormous issue, an issue that is well related to their theme and charity. In this pivotal and rapidly narrowing time frame during which we still have the opportunity to reverse some of the damage we have inflicted on our environment, there can be little room for ignoring the centrepiece issue that will dwarf the rest of our problems when it takes full force and becomes entirely irreversible. In failing to incorporate Earth Day, WOSL did not make the most appropriate use of the networking opportunities that they had created as it was narrowly focused on the theme, applying it only within the scope of the speakers’ personal lives and how the notion of time relates to Bowel Cancer.
Aside from the missed opportunity to incorporate messages relating to Earth Day and the urgency of climate change, the Women of Scotland Lunch was a successful and well organised event. WOSL raised a large sum of money for Bowel Cancer UK and offered its attendees the opportunity to come together in a supportive environment. WOSL highlighted and celebrated the achievements of trailblazing women in Scotland, as we strive for equal representation in the workplace and work to help society better itself through various charities, companies and initiatives. Altogether, the Women of Scotland Lunch was well worth attending and a wonderful event for fostering a community of interdisciplinary female professionals, working towards achieving similar goals across their diverse array of fields.