Scottish election 2021: Scottish Labour launches women’s manifesto to put women ‘at heart’ of Covid recovery

Scottish Labour has unveiled a targeted ‘women’s manifesto”, which it says will boost job prospects and encourage women into leadership positions in a move that would generate £17 billion for the Scottish economy.

Deputy party leader Jackie Baillie said that policies such as the party’s job creation scheme would particularly benefit women, who she said were “at the centre of the pandemic”.

The party pledged to implement statutory gender pay reviews across the Scottish public sector – as well as private companies with over 250 employees who benefit from public procurement – and said it would provide one-off central funds to pay for historical equal pay claims.

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Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and deputy leader Jackie Baillie launched the party's women's manifesto this morning.

She also said the party would focus on the creation of rapid diagnostic centres for women’s cancers such as cervical cancer and breast cancer screening, which give results within two weeks.

The women’s manifesto, coming a day before the party’s full manifesto is due to be published, said it would encourage women into leadership positions with targeted training and strengthened childcare support, designate childcare and social care as key growth sectors and develop a comprehensive support strategy for unpaid carers.

It will also support the growing number of women who are starting new enterprises through a new Entrepreneur Unit, ensuring equality of access to government investment.

Ms Baillie said: “We know that women have been at the centre of the pandemic. They have been the social care workers, the nurses who have looked after us throughout the pandemic.

"They are principally the people who are still on furlough. And also, they are the people who have had increased caring responsibilities as a result of the pandemic.”

She said that a study from equality group Close The Gap found the effective utilisation of women’s skills and talents has the potential to catalyse £17 billion pounds for the Scottish economy.

Ms Baillie said: “That is something we cannot afford to ignore. So, we will be investing almost a billion pounds in the biggest job creation package that the parliament and evolution have ever seen.”

She added: “As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, Scotland is at a crossroads. We can either allow the pandemic to take us backwards, or we can choose to invest in women as our economic powerhouse, unlocking billions in economic growth.

"Scottish Labour is committed to putting women at the heart of our recovery.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said at the launch: “We owe a huge thank you to all those frontline workers, disproportionately women, who helped us get through this pandemic.

"Disproportionately more likely to work in the NHS, disproportionately more likely to work in social care, disproportionately more likely to work in retail. Women who kept our country going in the most difficult of years, knowing they were risking taking the virus back home to their own families.

"We can’t just thank you, we can’t just come out and applaud you once a week on a Thursday like we did during the height of the pandemic.

"We want to make sure we recognise and reward you too. That’s why we can’t go back to the failed model pre-Covid. That’s why we’ve got to address head on the structural inequalities that existed before Covid and were exacerbated by Covid.”

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