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Scottish women’s council equality report out

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The National Advisory Council on Women and Girls, Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish women, equality, report,Along with the recommendations the Council is also calling on everyone to act differently.

The National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) was established in 2017 to advise Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on what was needed to tackle gender inequality in Scotland.

Over the course of 2018, it consulted a range of stakeholders of all genders across the country, including businesses and third sector organisations, in order to gather the evidence needed to develop its 2018 report and recommendations.

The ensuing report makes eleven key recommendations covering everything from education, to the legal system and childcare.

Focussing on ideas and mechanisms which will lead to deeper systemic change, NACWG has recommended the following:

Leadership:

Create a ‘What Works?’ Institute to develop and test robust, evidence-led inclusive and representative approaches to changing public attitudes in Scotland to girls and women’s equality and rights, including dismantling stereotypes about what girls and women should study, work at, and be. The Institute will be the place where “good learning” happens and where specialist gender support can be accessed that will give public bodies; the third sector and business the tools to act to change the culture on women’s equality.

Legislate for local and national candidate quotas for all parties by the 2021 election.

Carry out a thematic gender review of the new National Performance Framework as a catalyst for system analysis and change.

Accountability:

Create a ‘Gender Beacon Collaborative’ – made up of Scottish Government, a Local Authority, a public body, a third sector agency and a business to take a holistic and systemic approach to gender equality and work to having it embedded in all of its activities from employment to strategy to delivery. Supported by gender experts (and the What Works? Institute above) the outcome would be the creation of a model which has been proven to be successful; that creates a pathway for others to follow and will then be replicated across all public bodies.

Improve access to justice for women and girls experiencing men’s violence and the culture of violence against women and girls embedded in the fabric of Scottish society by:

Creating a world-leading process for complainers of sexual violence, including trauma-informed forensic medical examination, independent sexual violence advocacy, review of the law on corroboration, and privacy for complainers with regards to the disclosure of their medical records; and

Criminalise serious misogynistic harassment, filling gaps in existing laws.

Work with Scottish Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Rights Centre, Shakti Women’s Aid and the Law Society to create a consistent and inclusive model to ensure that women experiencing domestic abuse have sufficient access to expert legal advice and legal aid.

Create a resourced media body in Scotland, which will publicly review media which is sexist, misogynistic or bigoted; will provide guidance on what gender equal media can looks like and will strengthen the intersectional voices of women in media.

Creating Conditions:

Incorporate the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) into Scots Law.

Establish a Commission on Gender Equality in Education and Learning, covering Early Years, Primary and Secondary Education and learning, tasked with providing bold and far-reaching recommendations on how gender equality can be embedded in all aspects of learning (from teacher training, to school behaviours/cultures, to the curriculum and CLD practice).

The Commission should be independent of key bodies such as Education Scotland. The intended outcome is for a radical, evidenced based and gender-competent national strategy, providing much needed coherence and a pathway to safe and nurturing gender-neutral education and learning in all settings.

Provide 50 hours per week of funded, good quality and flexible education and childcare for all children between six months and five years old.

Create two ‘Daddy months’ of use-it-or-lose-it paid paternity leave in Scotland, using existing and additional powers transferred by UK Government.

Embed gender sensitive approaches in all work relating to programmes developed through the new Scottish Government “Scottish Approach to Service Design” model.

Throughout the discussions with the Circle, a large group of supportive allies, and the Council around systemic change, the following issues came up repeatedly:

Procurement – the potential of using procurement systems to embed gender equality across supply chains.

The Scottish Business Pledge – the potential to enhance the pledge to encourage businesses across Scotland to take bolder action.

Better data and analysis – the potential of more effective collation and intersectional analysis to help us understand the picture in Scotland more clearly and inform policy and decision making.

Gender budgeting and economics – the potential of the strategic recognition that gender equality can lead to far great inclusive growth.

The complexity and interconnectedness of each of these areas is clear, and some – welcome – work is underway through the forthcoming Gender Pay Gap Action Plan and other collaborative work around Gender Budgeting and data etc.

But as the NACWG said, each of these require bold leadership, with the necessary support infrastructure and political will to go with the action plans being developed.

And the Council calls on the First Miniter to prioritise the work in these areas.

But as well as the specific recommendations in this report the Council is also calling on everyone in Scotland to ACT differently.

Because this is not just about WHAT we do – but HOW we do it.

Each of us taking personal responsibility and committing to no longer being a bystander whenever we encounter gender inequality.

The Council believes this is one of the most urgent fundamental issues of our time – and that every one of us can make a difference.

The barriers and issues the Council have encountered are wide and deep – from day-to-day misogyny, harassment and violence; to valuing women’s work; to the disproportionate impact of austerity; to access to elected office; childcare; poverty; health; education; business; the shameful lack of participation, visibility and voices which many women experience as a result of discrimination in reaction to their intersecting identities e.g. women of colour and disabled women… the list goes on.

But fundamentally – this is about power.

Who has it.

Who doesn’t.

Who is willing – and who is unwilling – to share it and to give it up.

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