Nicola Sturgeon’s equality council calls for political gender quotas

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Plans beings considered by Nicola Sturgeon could see legally-binding quotas for female candidates at Holyrood and Scottish elections.

A committee of prominent women set up by the First Minister is publishing a document today on how to combat gender inequality including creating a watchdog to monitor sexism in the media.

Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty Images

Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty Images

Ministers are urged to “legislate for local and national candidate quotas for all parties by the 2021 election.”
The experts will also recommend a commission to tackle gender inequality in education should be set up to drive improvements in the Scottish education system.

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Ms Sturgeon’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls also believes creating an institute to change public attitudes to equality and rights.

The What Works? Institute would develop and test ways to change these attitudes, including how to break down stereotypes of what girls and women should study and work as.

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These recommendations are part of a series of 11 made in the council’s first report.

Council chairwoman Louise Macdonald said change would only happen “if we all step up and call out institutional inequality where we see it”.

The recommended Commission on Gender Equality in Education and Learning would examine schooling from early years to secondary and recommend improvements so gender equality is built in.

This would looking at include teacher training, school behaviour and culture, the curriculum and continuous learning and development.

The council recommends the commission is independent of bodies such as Education Scotland and wants it to create a national strategy to provide “safe and nurturing gender-neutral education and learning in all settings”.

Ms Macdonald said: “We know from the growth of global movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp that there is a real appetite for radical change for equality for women and girls.

“The First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls’ vision is for Scotland to be recognised as a leading nation in the pursuit of gender equality.

“Today, in our first report and set of recommendations to the First Minister, we set out the first steps for how that can be achieved.

“And while our work is primarily focused on Scotland, I believe our story will resonate with women and girls across the UK and beyond.”

She added: “We all have a part to play in creating a more inclusive society and in these recommendations we have focused on tackling changes in the systems that too often perpetuate inequality.

“We must listen and let the voices of those who experience inequality every day be heard. And we cannot be complacent.

“Change will only happen if we all step up and call out institutional inequality where we see it - which will benefit everyone in Scottish society.”

Nicola Sturgeon set up the council in 2017 to advise her on what is needed to tackle gender inequality in Scotland.