Labour leader candidates make gender equality vows

Scottish Labour's Sarah Boyack. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Scottish Labour's Sarah Boyack. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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LABOUR leadership candidates have announced a series of measures aimed at achieving gender equality.

MP Jim Murphy has proposed reforms including a requirement for equal representation in the cabinet and on the boards of public bodies accountable to the Scottish Government, and the appointment of a Cabinet Minister for Women.

Neil Findlay. Picture: Jon Savage

Neil Findlay. Picture: Jon Savage

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MSP Neil Findlay has made policy pledges including a Scottish law to address the gender pay gap, and increasing the representation of women at Holyrood and on “the bodies that take decisions for our country”.

Jim Murphy. Picture: Toby Williams

Jim Murphy. Picture: Toby Williams

The politicians, who are also competing against MSP Sarah Boyack to lead Scottish Labour, unveiled their plans ahead of a women’s hustings event in Glasgow.

Writing on his campaign website, Mr Murphy wrote: “If I am elected First Minister, I promise the women of Scotland that equality will be at the heart of everything a Labour Scottish Government will do.”

The MP for East Renfrewshire has pledged to fill at least half of a future Labour Scottish Government cabinet with women.

The addition of ministers Shona Robison and Angela Constance to the current cabinet in April this year means women currently make up 40% of its members.

The move came after the SNP administration announced it wanted to achieve at least 40% female representation on public boards, and called for powers over equality to be passed to the Scottish Parliament.

As well as his cabinet commitment, Mr Murphy also wants to introduce equal representation for women and men on the boards of public bodies accountable to the Scottish Government.

He has also committed to conducting a government impact assessment of the new powers for Holyrood to determine their impact on women in Scotland, and to campaign for private firms with more than 250 employees to publish their pay gap.

Mr Murphy said: “There are some male politicians who maybe shy away from getting involved in campaigns for women’s rights.

“But a big part of leadership is listening. And that’s why I am announcing a radical package of reforms today to advance the cause of women. It is because of the campaigning work of strong, passionate, powerful Scottish Labour women that this issue has risen so far up the political agenda.

“And it is because so many women in our movement have demanded change that the country has sat up and taken notice.”

Mr Findlay’s pledges also include more free and affordable childcare, better access for women to further and higher education, a “modern day slavery bill to protect vulnerable women for physical and sexual exploitation”, and making tackling domestic violence a top priority.

“I’m in politics to tackle inequality, and inequality is at its most glaringly unjust as it applies to women. In society as a whole and in the workplace in particular women don’t get a fair deal,” Mr Findlay said.

“If we are going to win in the future women need to know that Labour will deliver policies that will change their lives - I’m advocating policies that will do that.”

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