Patricia was born on the small Caribbean island of Dominica and grew up in Walthamstow, North East London. She studied law at the University of London, and became a barrister in 1977, specialising in family law. In 1991 she became the first black woman to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC). In 1997 she was elevated to the House of Lords as a working peer by Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, becoming Baroness Scotland of Asthal.
She served in various positions in Government as well as founding the Pro Bono Lawyers Panel, which provided free legal advice to UK nationals imprisoned in foreign countries. In 2007, Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed her Attorney General – the most senior legal advisor to the government – and the first woman to hold the role in over 700 years.
In 2016 she became the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General, and again, the first woman to hold the post.
ACTING TO MAKE HUMAN RIGHTS
As a family lawyer, Patricia Scotland has direct experience of dealing with the horrendous issues around domestic violence which affect at least one in three women worldwide. She learned from her father that any individual can make a difference and now says she would add to this, ‘Ask yourself, what are you going to do about it, today.’
Is there a moment that inspired you to take action?
Link to Scotland_Change_RFK video. “Where can you start to make change.” Watch this video. Sometimes Patricia believes that sometimes asking someone a question as simple as ‘How are you?’ can change people’s lives. Most people go through hard times at different stages in their lives, but often don’t want to talk about it until they are given permission with a simple question from someone who is prepared to listen. Can you think of a time when you have been told it is okay to speak that has helped you? Have you ever been the person who has asked the question and been able to listen to help a friend or family member? If you were worried about a friend, how might you start a conversation?
In 2005, Patricia Scotland founded The Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence, and she has used her position as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth to draw attention to this issue across all 53 member states with the Commonwealth Says NO MORE Campaign. In order to encourage and persuade colleagues in the workplace to identify and support potential victims of domestic violence – people who will often try and hide their terrible situation rather than ask for help – she encourages employers to think about the financial costs, as well as the emotional costs of not addressing the issue. Can you try and think what some of these costs to a business or to society might be? Now read this article, and make a list of the various examples of costs of domestic violence. Are there any that surprised you, or were not on your list? Do you think her argument about considering financial costs is a good way to persuade companies to take action?
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal countries. It is home to 2.4 billion people, and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. More than a billion people in the Commonwealth are less than thirty years old and the organisation works to actively improve the chances of the Commonwealth's young people, improve gender equality, harness the power of sport to bring people together, and promote harmony between faiths. On the Youth page there are several examples of the projects and opportunities. Are there any that appeal to you? How might these enable you to improve the human rights of other young people?
Who inspired you and why?
How do you make human rights a reality?
Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence – Outline of their work
What in your human rights life makes you proud?
What do human rights mean to you?
Where can you start to make change?
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
What does hope mean to you?
How has someone else given you hope?
What piece of advice would you give?