LATER on tonight, I’ll be a bit better dressed than I am at the moment, enjoying good food and sparkling chat with women from all over Scotland.

I might be sitting next to a leading politician; a brilliant businesswoman; a campaigning single mum; or a fearless community activist.

There will be jokes and stories all night, probably some tears, and for a few glorious hours, all will be right with the world.

“Why do you still have a Scotswoman of the Year award?” I’ve been asked occasionally, usually by men, usually in a tone of voice that suggests they don’t entirely approve. “Isn’t it out of date? Sexist? Divisive?”

No, it isn’t. It’s none of those things. It’s a celebration. It’s full of warmth and humour. It’s women speaking up, supporting each other, shattering glass ceilings, changing history, over a glass of fizz and chocolate dessert.

Our Scotswoman of the Year awards dinner has been going for 55 years. Much has changed in those decades, but much has not.

I don’t expect the revolutionaries and activists and campaigners who attended that first lunch in 1963 thought things would change for women overnight.

But they had hope that things WERE changing. It was the era of women’s lib. The fightback had begun.

Some of them must still be around, and I’d love to hear from them. What would they make of the last 12 months, I wonder?

This year, almost like no other, demonstrates why something that celebrates women’s achievements is still absolutely necessary and relevant.

The Hollywood abuse scandal. The revelations, thanks to the #MeToo campaign, about how pervasive sexual harassment and assault is for women in all parts of society.

The fact that girls around the world are still denied education.

The sinking feeling that women’s rights are being eroded, rather than bolstered, particularly in the US, where there have already been attacks on women’s reproductive and legal rights.

All of these are reasons why something like SWOTY has to exist.

One of the positives to come out of 2017 was the feeling that another fightback had begun. Far from being sidelined, women are rising up.

Tonight is all about helping them to do that.

Good luck Sammi, Sue, Arlene, Suki, Sally and Grace – welcome to the SWOTY family!