Nicola Sturgeon vows to put gender equality at heart of building back after Covid

Gender equality must be “absolutely” at the heart of efforts to rebuild society in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The Scottish First Minister stressed the “massive” contribution women have made in tackling the pandemic, as she said she believed Scotland was “on a road back to living much more freely and normally”.

She spoke at an event held in the Scottish Parliament to mark International Women’s Day, where she met leading public health expert Professor Linda Bauld of Edinburgh University in person for the first time.

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Ms Sturgeon told the gathering: “I have spoken to Linda over the past couple of years probably more than I have spoken to my own family. I’ve watched her, as everybody has, give that calm, authoritative advice on the television.

“But today is the first time I’ve ever met Linda in person, which again underlines just how extraordinary the past couple of years have been.”

Speaking at the event organised by the Scottish Women’s Convention, Ms Sturgeon said: “The things we took for granted before the pandemic, we really, really, really have to try and not take them for granted ever again.”

In the last two years, Ms Sturgeon said the world “has changed immeasurably”, adding that “in some respects it should not ever go back to exactly the way it was before the pandemic”.

She praised the contribution of women as both carers and key workers in what she said has been “the most profound crisis to affect the country in most of our lifetimes, certainly in my lifetime”.

Adding that the pandemic has “exposed and in some cases it has exacerbated some of the deep inequalities that already existed”, the First Minister made clear that “the idea of returning to the status quo after so many people have sacrificed so much… we can not allow that to happen”.

She insisted: “We must learn lessons from the pandemic and work together to build a fairer country.

“And given the massive contribution women made to tackling the pandemic, the massive contribution women make to our society each and every day, any attempt to build a better society out of this must have gender equality absolutely at its heart.”

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