Outstanding Women of Scotland

5 October 2019


Welcome from Professor Sally Mapstone


Good evening everyone. It’s my great pleasure to add my welcome to you to this lovely event inducting the Saltire Society’s ten Outstanding Women for 2019.


The Saltire Society’s Outstanding Women of Scotland campaign began in 2014 when it recognised the outstanding contribution made to Scottish society by 335 contemporary and historical women. Since 2015, it has inducted ten new women a year into the Outstanding Women of Scotland community. These women are nominated by members of the public because they are people from whom inspiration is drawn and who offer diverse and dynamic ways of doing their thing.


Although the Saltire Society is a non-political society, this is nonetheless a campaign. In recognising the achievements of outstanding women in these areas we are putting forward the role models that remain so important to present and coming generations; and we are signifying a growing and telling presence in today’s society - women making wonderful things, different things, needed things, inspirational things happen. You will notice that I am reclaiming the word ‘thing’ here – why not.


We will one day get to a point when we neither need nor wish to celebrate outstanding women, but that day has not yet come. Over the course of my own long career, I have seen many changes that affect women’s lives for the better, many brought in by women themselves, notably around matters such as equal pay, unconscious bias training, and abortion rights.


But progress does not unceasingly move forward and while we must continue to advocate for equal treatment of and further opportunities for women, so too must we safeguard the rights that women have already attained. In times of political and social turbulence throughout history, the treatment of women and minorities has consistently been the first area of regression; and I think we are all aware that we are in a time of unprecedented global political change, particularly in the light of collective challenges we face such as the climate crisis. We each have a responsibility boldly to strive for progress, but also carefully to safeguard our successes.


In Scotland, we very much value the fact that our present First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, is a member of our Outstanding Women of Scotland community – and regardless of political affiliation, she demonstrates the capacity for women to lead in the most public office in Scotland. And she does not only lead by example, but she pursues practical initiatives too; I am a member of her National Advisory Council circle on Women and Girls and see first hand her commitment to developing the opportunities made available to women in Scotland. As women, we all have a responsibility not only to set examples but to encourage and support the younger women who follow behind us.


So we need inspiration, and we need vitally to celebrate and to mark the achievements of women who transform their fields and our lives. That is what this evening is about. Today we will recognise 10 women for their contributions to society and culture. We will learn something about each of them as they accept their award and so I shan’t dwell on their accomplishments now, but through their creativity and determination, they have become leading entrepreneurs, advocates, artists, business people, and academics. In so doing they lead by example and we are honoured to be able to recognise each of these pioneering individuals today. 


Before I hand back to Sarah Mason who will resume today’s proceedings, I’d like to thank Perth Theatre for providing us with this wonderful venue in which we hold today’s event. And my thanks as the first female President of the Saltire Society go out to my splendid female colleagues who have put today’s event together, Heather, Catriona, and Sarah.


And lastly, to all of you in attendance today, may you, too, draw inspiration from the lives of the women whom we induct. Each of you deserves access to every opportunity that you desire and the individuals that we will recognise speak to the ability to succeed and to do so while shining a light for others. I hope the evening is one of celebration and inspiration for you all. 



2019 Outstanding Women of Scotland inductees announced.

Campaigners tackling period poverty, equality and the continuation of Scottish Folklore and folksong are among the 2019 Outstanding Women of Scotland Inductees.


Ten women from the fields of the arts, culture, politics, activism and science have been honoured and inducted into the esteemed Saltire Society ‘Outstanding Women of Scotland’ community at a special event as part of the Women of the World, Perth.

This year’s ten inductees include Professor Jill Belch, Professor of Vascular Medicine  Ninewells Hospital and Medical School Dundee,  Margaret Bennett, Professor, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow and Jackie Brierton MBE, CEO of GrowBiz who provide support to anyone starting, running or growing a business in rural Perth and Kinross. Also featured in this year’s list of inductees are Editor of literary magazine Chapman, Joy Hendry, Celia Hodson, Founder of Hey Girls, which  tackles period poverty ecologically, Chief Executive of Young Scot Louise MacDonald and  Zakia Moulaoui, founder of Invisible cities who train people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city. Completing the list of 2019 inductees are Emma Ritch, Executive Director of Engender, campaigner for gender equality and Creative Director of The British Film Institute and in charge of the BFI National Archive, one of the biggest and most significant collections of film and television and the moving image in the world, which works with archives across the UK.



Jill Belch, FRCP, MD, OBE, FR(E), FAMedSci
Professor of Vascular Medicine  Ninewells Hospital and Medical School Dundee


Margaret Bennett
Professor, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow



Jackie Brierton MBE
CEO of GrowBiz


Fiona Dalgetty
Ceannard / Chief Executive, Fèis Rois 


Joy Hendry
Editor of Chapman

Celia Hodson
Founder of Hey Girls



Louise Macdonald OBE
Chief Executive Young Scot


Zakia Moulaoui
Founder & CEO at Invisible Cities

Emma Ritch
Executive Director of Engender


Heather Stewart
Creative Director, British Film Institute


Since it began in 2015, the ‘Outstanding Women of Scotland’ induction has recognised and celebrated Scottish women from all walks of life and the inspiration their achievements set for the next generation. Each year, the campaign invites members of the public to nominate living contemporary examples of Scottish women who have made a significant contribution to Scottish culture and society for induction into the Outstanding Women of Scotland community. Past inductees have included singer-songwriter and activist Annie Lennox, bestselling author J.K. Rowling and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 2020 is planned to be the year that Saltire bring together its 40 inductees in a mentoring strategy to support and further inspire Scotland’s young people.

Taking place as part of the Women of the World Perth celebration, the special ceremony saw each inductee with a limited edition print from artist and illustrator Natasha Russell  https://www.natasharussell.com/


Commenting on the ceremony, WOW…., said:



Speaking on behalf of the Saltire Society, Director Sarah Mason said:

We are excited to be building the Outstanding Women of Scotland community again in 2019 and having the opportunity to celebrate these amazing women and the work they do to make Scotland and further afield a better place to live, work and play.  Without these women, Scotland would be a darker place and we are privileged to be able to take this moment to celebrate and thank them.

As well as recognising these women for their contribution, the Outstanding Women of Scotland Community is creating a tangible list of women who can, will and do inspire generations to come.