Suffragette flag flies high at town hall

The suffragette flag was flying above the town hall in Lerwick today in honour of International Women’s Day.

The purple, white and green striped flag was used by womens’ political movement over a century ago in their fight for the right to vote.

And the woman who recently took the top official’s job at Shetland Islands Council, Maggie Sandison, was clearly delighted to see the flag flying.

But she said the struggle for equal opportunities was still ongoing.

“For me International Womens Day is a time to think about how hard people have had to struggle to get the freedoms that we currently have.

“It also reminds us that we’ve not got where we need to be.”

Shetland Islands Council chief executive Maggie Sandison.

She said women not receiving equal pay for equal work in many areas and a lack of women who progress to the top of many organisations were two examples of how the struggle for womens rights had not yet been resolved.

“Even the self-limiting choices around where they go in their education. I think girls still make choices about what are men’s professions or not, and you see under-representation of women in science and technology, because maybe they’re still ‘masculine’ careers.”

Film maker Liz Musser hails from America, but now calls Shetland her home. She has been shortlisted for an innovation award at the Celtic Media Festival.

“When I was in the States and I worked in news for a long time I lugged a camera around and I was the only woman in an all-male team.”

Ms Musser said back then “you didn’t see a lot of women carrying video cameras.”

There was a perception they were too heavy, she said.

She added now it was not a question of whether somebody was physically able to do something in film making.

This year she said was the first time a female cinematographer was nominated for an academy award at the Oscars.

“I haven’t really experienced a heck of a lot of sexist behaviour here.

“I think there is probably still a way to go for people, but there’s progress.”


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