Ladies can’t sew but they can Skype

Pin cushion entry at SWRI Federation Show - proof, if needed, that the SWI ladies in Berwickshire know how to sew on a button
Pin cushion entry at SWRI Federation Show - proof, if needed, that the SWI ladies in Berwickshire know how to sew on a button

Women in the Borders are less proficient in ‘traditional’ SWI skills such as sewing on a button, but are a whizz when it comes to social media!

That’s the conclusion drawn by OnePoll, who spoke to 1,000 women across Scotland between August 28 and September 4 this year on behalf of Scottish Women’s Institute.

Borders SWIs are fighting back, however, taking a positive spin on the survey and grasping the opportunity to invite women along to their local SWIs and find out for themselves the wide range of new skills they can learn. In the case of Berwickshire institutes that could include drystane dyking.

Scottish Women’s Institute released a statement, saying; “A survey by the SWI of 1,000 Scottish women of all ages shows that women in the Scottish Borders are less proficient in ‘traditional’ SWI skills than women in other parts of Scotland.

“The Scottish Borders had one of the lowest scores for the number of women who could sew on a button, with 86% of women surveyed saying they could.

“The IT skills of the ladies of the Borders are very proficient however, with 94% of women of all ages able to share photos online and 86% with the skills to use social media. 72% reported being able to use Skype or Facetime.”

Rebranding of the SWI is currently underway – they have already dropped ‘rural’ from their name – and the survey looked at the skills women consider relevant in this day and age as the SWI struggles to remain relevant in the lives of 21st century women as it approaches its centenary.

Christine Hutton, the chairman of the SWI, said: “Our membership has been declining for more than three decades by at least 1,000 members a year. This survey shows two key things for our organisation.

“Firstly, that institutes across Scotland are already delivering what many women want – but not everyone is aware of the scope of our activities.

“But more importantly, as we approach our centenary, we need to be offering skills and activities relevant to what today’s women want and this independent survey gives us the evidence to show that we need to explore foreign languages, musical instruments, practical DIY and car maintenance, IT skills and professional skills such as leadership and presentation skills.”

Mary Macfarlane, chair of the Berwickshire Federation, said: “We are glad that so many women are able to sew on a button and if those who can’t would like to upgrade their skills we are happy to have them come along because that’s what we are here for - to help people learn.

“A lot of people are very able in arts and crafts and we are showcasing that in our federation show on October 24, in the Volunteer Hall, Duns.

“Anyone wanting to join an institute, this is the beginning of our year and new members will be made very welcome.

“Seeing as our IT skills in the Borders are so good ladies who are interested in joining should be able to find us quite easily on the internet!

“It’s very sociable. You don’t come along and learn a new skill every month. You come along and meet new people.

“I think the good point that we, as a federation, should be sending out to institutes, is to make them aware that they just have to ask if members want to learn something new.”