Makar Kathleen Jamie reworks Burns’ most famous poem to highlight women’s plight

Scotland’s Makar has released ‘A Woman’s A Woman’ to highlight the challenges in times of conflict and disaster.

08 March 2022

Scotland’s national poet has reworked Robert Burns’ most famous poem to highlight the plight faced by women in times of conflict and disaster.

Makar Kathleen Jamie has written A Woman’s A Woman, a woman-centred take on the Burns poem A Man’s A Man, for International Women’s Day on Tuesday.

The makar is working with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to support both its Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal and also the ongoing Afghanistan Crisis Appeal.

Royal visit to Scotland
Scotland’s makar Kathleen Jamie has created a special version of Robert Burns’ A Man’s A Man (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Having heard about the huge hunger crisis in Afghanistan I was keen to help raise the profile of the DEC’s work, in particular the challenges that women face there,” she said.

“With so many women and children now affected in the Ukraine crisis as they flee the violence, I hope this video will now encourage people to do what they can to help.”

Some 1.7 million people have fled war-torn Ukraine since Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into the country, with the majority being women who have walked for hours to cross the borders into safety.

The DEC said women and girls were disproportionately affected by conflict, and that families were ripped apart leaving women alone and vulnerable or responsible for young children in a bid to find safety.

And, as they do this, children are being uprooted from their schools and homes while men stay behind to be conscripted.

For those still left in Ukraine life is dangerous.

Women have been giving birth in underground metro stations as health facilities have become inaccessible or too damaged to function.

The organisation said around 80,000 women will give birth within the next three months in the country.

In Afghanistan, DEC member agencies are prioritising nutrition support for young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women and taking steps to provide protection for women and girls.

DEC charities have negotiated access for female aid workers to ensure that the needs of women and girls are being met, the organisation said.

Marie Hayes, of the British Red Cross Scotland and chairman of the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal in Scotland, said: “We know how special this work is to the people of Scotland and Scots around the world, so we are hugely grateful that Kathleen has created and recorded this modern version of Burns’ most famous work to help raise the profile of women’s challenges in humanitarian crises, not only in Ukraine and Afghanistan, but in many other places around the world, many of them away from media attention.”

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