Action to Protect Women’s Rights in Scotland

giacomo_ceruti_-_women_working_on_pillow_lace_detail_-_wga4673A new report by the Scottish Human Rights Commission has expressed concern at the implications for women’s rights when the UK leaves the EU.

Whilst acknowledging the many positive actions to protect and promote gender equality the SHRC notes that there is much still to do.

Judith Robertson, Chair of the Commission, said:

““While the Scottish Government is to be commended for many of its actions to progress gender equality, our latest report to the UN shows that it must now go further, faster, to ensure that all women in Scotland are able to enjoy all of their rights – economic, social, civil and political – on the same terms as their male counterparts.”

Amongst the positive actions taken by the Scottish Government the report highlights are:

  • The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018
  • The Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse
  • The Scottish government’s commitment to double the hours of childcare
  • The implementation of the Best Start Grant
  • Scotland’s first National Action Plan on Human Rights 2013-17

 Judith Robertson, said:

“Recent campaigns like #metoo have exposed the reality of just how many women experience day-to-day violations of their rights to safety, security and justice.

“At the same time, women continue to be underrepresented in public life, and to bear the brunt of austerity policies, with women from black and minority ethnic communities, disabled women and women on low incomes often experiencing a double or triple whammy of disadvantage.

The report will be presented to the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). You can read it here: Submission to UN

27 recommendations are made which would protect and support women’s rights in Scotland including reaffirming the UK Government’s commitment to the Human Rights  Act once we exit the EU on March 29th 2019.

Key Recommendations

1.    That the UK and Scottish Governments incorporate the provisions of CEDAW ( UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) into its domestic law.

2.    That the UK  Government affirm its commitment to retaining the Human Rights Act following withdrawal from the EU.

3.    That the UK Government  takes all necessary steps to ensure there  is no future regression of the legal protection of women’s rights as a result of the UK leaving the European Union.

4.    That the UK and Scottish Governments adopt effective measures to mitigate the negative economic impacts on women following withdrawal from the EU.

5.    That the UK and Scottish Governments urgently collate and publish disaggregated data on intersectionality relating to each of the CEDAW rights.

6.    That the UK Government ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence ( the Istanbul Convention) as a matter of urgency.

7.    That the UK and Scottish Governments bring forward the improvements in law, policy and practice that are required to guarantee on-going and coherent compliance with the Istanbul Convention.

8.    That the Scottish government seeks to ensure that all relevant agencies are appropriately trained to enforce the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill and ensure that women and children receive the support and services required.

9.    That the UK  Government extend the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession to all women with insecure immigration status for as long as they remain in the UK.

10.  That the Scottish Government introduces legislation that prohibits corporal punishment of children in all settings and further promotes positive non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment across Scotland.

11.  That the Scottish Government engages with the media and private sector to eliminate the dissemination of stereotypical imaging of women and their objectification, especially in advertising.

12.  That the Scottish Government and the UK ensure that frontline staff in all relevant agencies are appropriately trained to identify and assist victims of trafficking.

13.  That the Scottish government increases efforts to increase the representation of women in all aspects of political and public life, taking into full account the intersectionality of women’s identities.

14.  That the Scottish Government strengthens data collection and maintain disaggregated data to better understand the issue and measure progress.

15.  That the Scottish Government reviews the current anti-bullying strategy to ensure it expressly recognises gender-based bullying and misogynistic behaviour in schools.

16.  The Scottish Government develops a national strategy to address the causes of the gender pay gap including a commitment to mainstream gender in the design and development of new legislation, policies and programmes.

17.  That the Scottish Government develops a model of free universal childcare provision that offers flexibility, considering both the needs of children and the situations of parents

18.  That the UK Government address the financial barriers to take up of shared parental leave by fathers and the Scottish Government develops a programme to address the inadequacy of parental leave.

19.  That the Scottish Government increases its efforts to raise awareness of parental leave entitlement and work with employers to address the cultural barriers to take up.

20.  That the Scottish Government develops mental health strategies that consider  intersectional discrimination and ensure equal access to the health care, particularly through national training programme of medical personnel and students.

21.  That the Scottish Government ensures that NHS services focus on equality of access for diverse groups of women.

22.  That the Scottish Government continues to develop gender-specific alternatives to custody for women convicted of minor offences, in line with the Committee’s recommendations in 2013.

23.  That the Scottish Government ensures that the new social security system addresses the problems experienced by women and continue to mitigate against the negative impacts of welfare reform on the most vulnerable, particularly disabled women, black and minority ethnic women and lone mothers.

24.  That Universal Credit payments be split as a matter of routine to ensure that women have independent access to resources.

25.  That the Scottish Government urgently establishes a national independent Commission on social care funding.

26.  That the Scottish Government responds positively to the recommendations of the Independent Review of Legal Aid in order to make the service fairer and simpler for users.

27.  That the Scottish Government initiates a further review into rates of pay for Legal Aid and ensure that the review is gender proofed.

Reporter: Fiona GrahameMother & Child

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