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Book voices women’s stories of sectarianism

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​New approach to tackling sectarianism

Campaigners say a new book containing short stories and poems about sectarianism, written by women, signals a new approach to tackling the age-old problem in Glasgow.

Called Mixing the Colours, it includes contributions from women from all walks of life as well as commissioned authors Denise Mina, Eleanor Thom and Magi Gibson.

A joint project by Glasgow Women's Library and funded by the Scottish Government's Tackling Sectarianism Programme, the books aim to raise awareness about the issue from a woman’s perspective.

Magi Gibson explains: "The women who took part came from all backgrounds - some with degrees and doctorates, others who had left school to go straight into the workplace. I encouraged each woman, and they encouraged each other, to have confidence in her own voice."

Project development worker Rachel Thain-Gray adds: "Women's historical and contemporary experiences on the traditionally male-focused issue of sectarianism have until now been marginalised and excluded from the social history of Scotland.

I encouraged each woman, and they encouraged each other, to have confidence in her own voice

"Frequently, women are seen in a stereotypical way as passive victims of sectarianism, as the casualties of domestic abuse after football matches.

"More than 250 women got involved and far from being the end of the project, we are hoping the publication of the book is the starting point for more discussion and action.

"It's not about standing up and telling people they are wrong - it's about starting the conversation."

Cara Henderson, who set up the Glasgow charity Nil by Mouth following the murder of her friend in a sectarian-related attack, says Mixing the Colours is a fantastic project.

"Given all the negative stories about sectarian chanting we have seen lately, it is wonderful to hear voices of hope and determination rising above the noise and recriminations," she says.

"Women can not only help to bring a different perspective on the problem of sectarianism in Scotland, but they can play a really important role in defeating it.

"Projects like this help to remind us that although we may have inherited sectarianism out of the insecurities and suffering of previous generations, we don't have to pass it on."

The book launches tonight (6 March) at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre with free tickets available.