SDF staff highlight women who inspire them for International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day, held on the 8th of March every year, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

To celebrate and raise awareness of the day this year, SDF staff have highlighted a number of women who they believe are an inspiration and who have made an impact on the substance use and related fields.

This year’s theme is #PressForProgress – some of the women on the list have made huge progress in their respective field through their distinguished career and others are set to continue to do so.


Alison Thewliss MP, Glasgow Central

Alison is the SDF Glasgow office’s local MP and has shown great interest in progressive drugs policy, particularly in the proposal for a safer drug consumption room and heroin-assisted treatment in Glasgow city centre. SDF were grateful for Alison taking the time last year to attend and present certificates at the West of Scotland Addiction Worker Training Project graduation.

“I’m proud that our local MP is a proponent of evidence-based policies that would help some of the most vulnerable people in Glasgow” – SDF staff member


Professor Betsy Thom

Professor Thom is a sociologist with a special interest in social and policy aspects of alcohol and illicit drug use. Recent research has included a study on the local implementation of the Alcohol Licensing Act 2003, work on young people and ‘binge’ drinking, and the local implementation of national policy, in particular, research on partnership as a mechanism for policy delivery and multi-component programmes as a response to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm.

“Betsy Thom has been involved in ground breaking research around women and drug and alcohol use.” – SDF staff member


Elizabeth Ettorre

Elizabeth Ettorre is a distinguished feminist scholar and sociologist in the area of substance use, genetics, reproduction and gender equality and is Emerita Professor of Sociology at the University of Liverpool. Besides publishing in a number of international peer-reviewed journals, she published many books on women and the substance use field.

“Elizabeth puts forward a feminist perspective on women substance users.” – SDF staff member


Joyce Leggate

Joyce set up the Vulnerable in Pregnancy (VIP) initiative in Fife, which aims to help women who have substance use problems during their pregnancy. The VIP project, which is run by NHS Fife and Fife Council, aims to stabilise mothers on an Opiate Replacement Therapy programme. More than 600 women have been supported by the initiative since it began 18 years ago.

“The VIP midwives do an incredible job of supporting the women in their care, from helping them remove the chaos from their lives, to building up their self-esteem.” – SDF staff member


Judith Lewis Hermann

Judith Lewis Herman is an American psychiatrist, researcher, teacher, and author who’s work has focused on the understanding and treatment of traumatic stress. She is best known for her distinctive contributions to the understanding of trauma and its victims, as set out in her second book, the now classic study of the diagnostic category post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Trauma and Recovery. Judith’s work has directly informed the SDF ‘Introduction to trauma and working with people who use substances’.

“Judith changed the landscape for many, many individuals.  By re-framing the experience of trauma (both in terms of understanding its domestic context and of framing complex trauma as an entity in and of itself), she gave millions of people the frame, language and tools to understand their experience and move towards healing from it, as well as offering practitioners the knowledge and tools to support people on this journey.” –  SDF staff member


Dr Mary Hepburn

Dr Mary Hepburn was the driving force behind the introduction of the Glasgow Women’s Reproductive Health Service, set up in 1990, after fighting for years for a change in the way women who have substance use problems were treated with by the health system. The guidelines and recommendations used by the clinic, now known as the Special Needs in Pregnancy Service (Snips), are now in place UK-wide and internationally recognised as the correct way to treat socially disadvantaged mothers-to-be. Mary is a member of SDF’s board and we are grateful for her input.

“Mary Hepburn has been inspirational in putting women’s needs at the forefront of service provision.” – SDF staff member


Michaela Booth

Michaela is a criminology undergraduate, online blogger, former prisoner, and involvement worker. She began blogging about criminal justice and the prison system upon her liberation from spending four years in prison. Her blog ‘Michaela Movement’ can be found here.

“I chose Michaela for using her experience of criminal justice to advocate better policy and practices for woman in prison. We wish her every success in her studies” – SDF staff member