DCSIMG

Scottish independence: Women’s vision outlined

Margaret Curran wants to know: 'Where are women in the White Paper?

Margaret Curran wants to know: 'Where are women in the White Paper?" Picture: Ian Rutherford

THE Deputy First Minister and Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary have set out their visions for the future for women as they debated the issues surrounding independence.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon argued that a yes vote in September would bring gains in childcare, the minimum wage, equalities issues, pensions, benefits and economic opportunities.

Her opponent, Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran, countered by saying that the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence lacked ambition for women.

Detailing her party’s history of progress on women’s issues, Ms Curran set out her own vision for further gains by electing a Labour government at the next UK general election.

The politicians were speaking at the Scottish Women’s Convention in Glasgow, where about 150 delegates took part in a question-and-answer session with a panel of representatives from both sides of the independence debate.

Ms Curran told her audience that “the biggest unanswered question for me when I read the white paper was ‘Where are women?’”

She said: “In 650 pages we had space for the time zone, whether we’d be members of Eurovision and what the national anthem would be, but we had no ambition for women.

“One mention of equal pay and not a single mention of single parents.

“Nicola Sturgeon spoke today about extending childcare, but if she was serious she would do it now.

“And when the best reason she can give for not doing it now is that some of the benefits might go to the UK, I think that is wrong.

“They are putting their ambition for independence ahead of our fight for more childcare.

“And, sisters, we know that the fight for equality is exactly that - a fight. But in 650 pages of this document I see no sense of a fight for women.”

Ms Curran said that paper contained “no suggestion of standing up to companies to extend maternity pay, “no hint of action against firms who won’t get to grips with the gender pay gap” and “no sense of standing up to vested interests to guarantee equal representation for women”.

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