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.
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”.
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.
On his campaign website, 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 per cent of its members.
The move came after the SNP announced it wanted at least 40 per cent female representation on public boards, and called for powers on equality to be passed to the Scottish Parliament.
Murphy also wants equal representation for women on the boards of public bodies accountable to the Scottish Government. He has committed to a government impact assessment of the new powers for Holyrood to determine their impact on women, and to campaign for private firms with more than 250 employees to publish their pay gap.
Murphy said: “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.”
Findlay’s pledges also include more free or affordable childcare, better access for women to further and higher education, a “modern-day slavery bill” to protect vulnerable women from physical and sexual exploitation, and making tackling domestic violence a top priority.
“In society as a whole and in the workplace in particular, women don’t get a fair deal,” Findlay said.