Pioneer Trade Union Women in Scotland's History

International Women’s Day is celebrated by women all over the world on March 8th every year. This year, as part of the lead up to IWD, I was privileged to be part of a group of women involved in producing a video on the most prominent trade union women in Scotland’s history. This event was organised by the STUC in conjunction with the STUC Women’s Committee, of which I am a member.

 Last Monday a group of us visited the archives at Glasgow Caledonian University to research leading women from our labour history. We were able to explore some of the archives and then pick our ‘favourite’ influential woman from history. The STUC filmed the research process and then participants were filmed talking about themselves and why we were inspired by the legacy of the woman we picked.

 The purpose was to provide some education on forgotten women from labour history, and to get women speaking about their involvement with unions. The STUC will be releasing the video on social media as part of this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day.

I found it a fascinating experience and the woman I chose was Martha Dewar. Martha was one of the first members of the STUC Women’s Committee when it was established in 1926. She represented workers in the Textile Industry in Dunfermline, the majority of which were women. My interest in her was sparked by the fact she lived in my home town. I discovered that Martha went on to become a councillor and then the first female magistrate in Dunfermline in 1932. There was a children’s home named after her based on the site that is now the Keavil House Hotel just outside Dunfermline. She also has a street named after her, Frew Court.


I look forward to seeing the video and I will share it on social media.


“A member could come and talk to me about anything that might be on their mind, even if it's just to get something off their chest.”

Fredrick MarkhamAegis Representative