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Gender matters: questions for Holyrood parties

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Holyrood 2016, election manifesto, women, equality, twenty for 2016Manifesto calls for real commitments to achieving women’s equality in Scotland.

Elections for the Scottish Parliament are due to be held on 5 May 2016, and Engender has launched a Gender Matters Manifesto: ‘Twenty for 2016’.

Engender, Scotland’s feminist membership organisation, is working on a gender equality agenda, to tackle the impact of sexism on women, men, children, society, and on our economic and political development.

It aims to secure social and economic equality for all groups of women in Scotland.

The manifesto has been endorsed by Scottish Women’s Aid, Close the Gap, Rape Crisis Scotland, Zero Tolerance and the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, and is the result of consultation which involved women throughout Scotland.

It sets out twenty ‘key asks’ for parties to commit to in the run up to the election for seats in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh.

These include commitments to a ‘Gender Equality Bill’, universal childcare provision, investing in a Women’s Employment and Enterprise fund, and to use new powers to address women’s inequality in social security.

And in the coming months resources to help all of members and supporters put pressure on the candidates in their areas to commit to gender equality will be produced.

Emma Ritch, executive director of Engender, said: “This Gender Matters manifesto calls for real commitments to achieving women’s equality in Scotland.

“Through taking action on the economy, social security, care provision, education, violence against women, and all other areas where inequality exists, decision makers can improve women’s lives in Scotland.

“The ‘twenty asks’ included in the manifesto have come about through consultation with women across Scotland, and represent key issues which present barriers to women’s full participation in all aspects of life,” she continued.

“We hope all political parties and candidates in Scotland will take this manifesto on board and include the commitments in their own manifesto.

“Gender matters in the Holyrood elections, and we will be working with all parties to make sure their campaigns and commitments reflect this.”

Laura Tomson, the co-director of Zero Tolerance, a charity working to end men’s violence towards women which has endorsed the manifesto, said: “We welcome Engender’s ‘Twenty for 2016’ manifesto and share their vision for full social and economic equality for all women in Scotland.

“Gender inequality is a cause and consequence of violence against women. A more equal Scotland is a safer Scotland.

“As an organisation that works to prevent violence against women we are particularly keen to see all parties commit to ending inequality in schools through a ‘whole school approach’, and creating a watchdog to tackle media sexism.

“Challenging public attitudes through education and media are core to our work.”

The chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, Dr Marsha Scott said her organsiation also – warmly – welcomed Engender’s 2016 manifesto.

“For the last 40 years, Scottish Women’s Aid has been working to support women and children experiencing domestic abuse,” she continued.

“We know that tackling women’s economic dependence is vital in the fight to end violence against women, and adopting these measures would go some way to bolstering women’s resilience and self-determination in the face of domestic abuse.

“It is unacceptable that women and children who have experienced domestic abuse also face losing their home, and domestic abuse should be specifically addressed within current housing options prevention policy.

“Access to justice and measures to increase conviction rates for perpetrators of domestic abuse and sexual crimes must be a priority for the next government,” she added.

“We call on all Scotland’s politicians to adopt these steps to increase women’s autonomy, safety and choices.”

To see the full manifesto, click here.

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