City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Women's Health... Whose Wealth? Three Day mini-fest marks Thirtieth Anniversary

By Lindsay Corr - Posted on 28 August 2012

The first Scottish Women’s Health Fair in 1983 saw women coming together from across Scotland to explore alternative grassroots visions of women’s health and challenge the established medical model.

Thirty years on, has anything changed?

For women today, are we seeing health as solely our individual responsibility and joining private gyms, or is there any legacy of the ideas which fuelled the Scottish Women’s Health Fair?

Women Live! returns with a three day mini-festival, centred around an afternoon of discussion on Women’s Health… Whose Wealth? on Saturday 8 September at 3pm.

A panel, chaired by Jane Jones, will explore now versus then, discussing how in the 1980’s women were thinking differently about health. Health was political and social, not just about eating brown bread and jogging. Health Fairs followed in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen which looked more critically at how mental illness was defined, how services were provided – contraception, menopause, sexuality, childbirth – and social and economic causes of ill health. With input from Linda Headland, Sue Laughlin, Jo Burns and Roberta Blaikie.

So many women involved first time around have gone on to become respected and admired in their various fields, such as traditional singer and contemporary songwriter Christine Kydd who explains her feelings on the anniversary:

When I mentioned this anniversary my first thought was that we were acorns back then and we are now oaks – we’ve all achieved a lot in our fields, and this represents more of an achievement given that the context in which we all developed was far from conducive. Women at that time were under-represented and I thought we should celebrate our achievements.

"I felt whatever we do should explore the current status of women, as artists and professionals in our culture, both the strength and the fragility of the foundations on which that status is built, how we got here and it gives an opportunity to pass on to younger women the compulsion to maintain and develop that position.”

The organisers realised it was about time they let everyone know just how much they accomplished by revisiting the key themes and showcasing quality entertainment produced, created and presented by women. Therefore, in conjunction with the Scottish Storytelling Centre, they’ve organised three events; the world premiere production of The Barkin House on Thursday 6 September at 7.30pm, an open-floor evening of storytelling and performance in Café Voices: Women Live! on Friday 7 September at 7pm and fantastic feet formations from Irish dancers Absolutely Legless on Saturday 8 September at 7.30pm.

Full Event Details:

Thu 6 Sep | 7.30pm (50mins, plus Q&A) | £10/£8 | 14+
The Barkin House by Wilma G Stark
Directed by Morna Burdon, Performed by Margaret Fraser

with the music of Duncan Chisholm’s Door of Saints and the voice of Amy Allan      
In Lochranza, Arran, a ruined barkin house still exists and is the inspiration for Wilma Stark’s beautiful and poetic new play. This dwelling was also a workplace where the fishing nets were waterproofed and protected against the sea whose tides would flood the lower half twice a day. The words, music, setting and rhythms of the sea combine to tell the tale of Flora Mary who lives and works here as she battles daily to stay alive. Tending a baby and a bedridden husband, her memories and her sorrows, she rails at the sea as it roars & whispers, reminding her of a past and taunting her as she struggles with a decision.....

Fri 7 Sep | 7pm (3hrs) | £5 |14+
Cafe Voices: Women Live!
Join Women Live! in celebration with song, stories and memories. Hosted by the group leaders, including a specially reformed Sprangeen, this promises to be a fun night of lively womanhood! Menfolk are also welcome…

Sat 8 Sep | 3pm (2hrs) | Free, but ticketed | 12+
Women’s Health… Whose Wealth?
The first Scottish Women’s Health Fair in 1983 saw women gathering in Edinburgh from across Scotland to explore alternative grassroots visions of women’s health - challenging the establishment medical model. Thirty odd years on, has anything changed?  Back then women knew health was political and social, not just about individuals eating brown bread and jogging.  Are we still responding to these persistent public health messages by making consumerist lifestyle choices or have the alternative, radical ideas on women’s health won through? An audience discussion to reflect on the impact of this seminal event with a panel of the original organisers and participants who took part.

Sat 8 Sep | 7.30pm (1hr 45) | £10/£8/£5 child | All Ages
Absolutely Legless
A high energy show of Irish rhythms, reels and song, bringing Irish traditional music, song and dance alive! With fiddles, flutes and feet the fantastic dancers and live band promise to deliver an exhilarating dance and music experience. Absolutely Legless have gained international acclaim having performed in the USA, Europe and throughout the UK. The original choreography combined with the energetic live music will guarantee to have the whole family clapping and toe-tapping throughout the show. Don't miss out on this unique experience.

Tickets avaialable on 0131 556 9579 or online at


Lindsay Corr is Marketing Officer at the Scottish Storytelling Centre