16.1 As this is a rapid evidence review, the following comments are not policy recommendations, but rather are headlines from the evidence that may be used to inform priorities and actions by the Scottish Government in formulating equality outcomes.
16.2 The evidence review has shown that women continue to experience discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity. The current economic climate increases women's vulnerability, and reduces their labour market security, during pregnancy and maternity. Levels of understanding of maternity and pregnancy rights must be increased, in order to prevent employers' claims of ignorance, and to support women's exercise of their legal rights.
16.3 Poverty and reduced benefit payments will put pressure on women's labour market choices and on household budgets. In addition, some women are less able than others to access financial or other support during pregnancy. Women seeking asylum or coming to Scotland as refugees are especially at risk of poverty, with mixed evidence about access to information and services during pregnancy and early maternity.
16.4 The evidence highlights teenage pregnancy as a persistent area of concern and of policy intervention. The two principal areas of priority are:
- addressing the relationship between poverty and teenage pregnancy, and
- improving education authorities' support of pregnant women and new mothers in education and training.
16.5 While there is evidence of sector-specific guidance and practice improvement, the evidence points to an uneven state of support for teenage mothers or expectant mothers within the formal education system.
16.6 This evidence review has also highlighted the limitations of current research on pregnancy and maternity issues arising in housing provision. The impact of changes to housing benefit should be monitored. Access to social housing and proposed levies on house size and occupancy levels are potential areas of concern. Overall, housing provision during pregnancy and early maternity is currently an under-researched area, and could therefore benefit from further investigation.
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