Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board


The Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board (ESJSB) will drive change in relation to the aims and priorities of Equally Safe and the strategy’s implementation.

All of the board's actions should be to promote the safety of women and girls. All members of the board agree to adopt and work to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls.

Before March 2019 this group was called ‘Violence Against Women Joint Strategic Board’.

Terms of reference


Official name of group: Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board (ESJSB)     

The Board recognises that each organisation represented will be bound by their own organisational objectives.

Definition of VAWG

In line with the Equally Safe strategy, the Board adopts the following definition of violence against women and girls:

Gender based violence is a function of gender inequality, and an abuse of male power and privilege. It takes the form of actions that result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women and children, or affront to their human dignity, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. It is men who predominantly carry out such violence, and women who are predominantly the victims of such violence. By referring to violence as ‘gender based’ this definition highlights the need to understand violence within the context of women’s and girl’s subordinate status in society. Such violence cannot be understood, therefore, in isolation from the norms, social structure and gender roles within the community, which greatly influence women’s vulnerability to violence.

Violence against women and girls encompasses (but is not limited to):

  • physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family (including children and young people), within the general community or in institutions, including domestic abuse, rape, and incest;
  • sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation in any public or private space, including work;
  • commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution, lap dancing, stripping, pornography and trafficking;
  • child sexual abuse, including familial sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation and online abuse;
  • so called ‘honour based’ violence, including dowry related violence, female genital mutilation, forced and child marriages, and ‘honour’ crimes.

(Scottish Government and COSLA, April 2016)

Purpose of the group

The ESJSB will drive change in relation to the aims and priorities of ES and the strategy’s implementation. All of the Boards actions should be to promote the safety of women and girls. All members of the Board agree to adopt and work to the above definition of VAWG.


  • To ensure that the strategy remains relevant and viable, and provide oversight and expert advice to support the successful delivery of the Delivery Plan.
  • In collaboration with delivery partners to develop and deliver an achievement/reporting framework for the outcomes in the Delivery Plan, ensuring they are clearly defined and articulate how they contribute to the achievement of the strategy.
  • Review and approve high level delivery documentation and products, including the programme plans.
  • To identify, resolve or escalate risks or issues affecting survivors which need the input and agreement of senior stakeholders.
  • Ensure that the lived experience of survivors is embedded in the Equally Safe approach.
  • Provide advice to the Scottish Government and COSLA on the necessary resources required to ensure successful strategy delivery.
  • Ensure that strategy’s risks are being tracked and managed effectively.
  • Support the review of the evidence base for the ES strategy.
  • Consider collective responsibility and JSB’s parameters e.g. if one Board member cannot agree or support Board recommendations.
  • Ensure links with wider policy development and implementation across spheres of government.


While members are individuals they are invited for their knowledge, networks and to ensure a cross-portfolio/service focus and there is expectation that they will bring the views of those within their work/subject/sector focus.

The Board will hold stakeholders accountable for agreed progress. Individual representatives will be accountable for progress within their own nexus of leadership influence and control.

As part of the contribution to the ESJSB, members should actively engage with colleagues across their sector/area of focus to provide representative views. Individuals should come prepared to provide a position or perspective on this basis.

Membership of the ESJSB will be reviewed collaboratively by the Chairs and Board members on an annual basis to ensure the sectors/areas of focus reflect the priorities and remain relevant.

Secretariat for the JSB will be provided by the Scottish Government VAWG Equalities Policy Team and COSLA Equally Safe Policy Manager.


The Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board will be co-chaired by the Minister for Equalities and Older People and the COSLA Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing.

Decision making

The JSB is the oversight body for Equally Safe and all advice, decisions and recommendations will be documented appropriately. Final decisions are overseen/co-ordinated by the Scottish Government and COSLA as the co-owners of Equally Safe.

Frequency of meetings​​​​​​​

Meetings will occur quarterly to meet the needs of the programme deliverables. Meetings will be primarily held via Microsoft Teams but could be in-person/hybrid.

Minute of meetings

Agenda, papers and action logs will be distributed at least 5 working days in advance of each meeting. Minutes will be drafted by the programme team (VAWG Policy Team), approved by the Chairs, and agreed by the group. All minutes/action notes will be circulated no later than 5 working days after each meeting.

Group member behaviours

It is the responsibility of each member of the JSB to:

  • attend and actively participate in discussions at meetings
  • to ensure that each organisation/sector is represented at all meetings, including identifying a staff member to deputise for the main contact should they not be able to attend
  • access papers and prepare accordingly prior to meetings
  • ensure feedback loops are established and utilised; represented; including, where relevant
  • report back on activities of the programme to appropriate stakeholders
  • be accountable to stakeholders, own organisations and victim-survivors
  • be gender-informed, meeting recognised sectoral guidance


Papers, unless otherwise stated, from these meetings are available for review upon request and will be held in a secure folder within the broader accountability eRDM network. To also be mindful of when it is appropriate to share further than the Board to get wider input and guidance.

Member duration

Board membership and Terms of Reference will be reviewed annually as a minimum.

Equally Safe workstreams


Equally Safe has four workstreams which feed into this board:

1. Primary prevention

This workstream is being coordinated by Engender, an Edinburgh-based feminist organisation.

It is exploring:

  • the existing evidence on what works with regards to preventing violence against women and girls
  • identifying additional ways of addressing the systematic inequality, attitudes and assumptions that give rise to violence and abuse, (and scoping the costs and benefits associated with this
  • considering primary prevention in the widest context - society, community and the individual

2. Capability and capacity

This workstream is being coordinated by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). Its remit is to ensure that:

  • statutory services including health, education, social work and housing are more competent in identifying, and responding effectively, to violence
  • considering and working to improve all services' capacity and capability

3. Justice

This workstream is being coordinated by the Scottish Government Justice Directorate.

It is reviewing a co-ordinated approach within the civil and criminal justice systems, that includes consideration of the law relating to sexual offences and domestic abuse. For example:

  • whether the current law reflects the true experience of victims of long-term abuse (including coercive control)
  • whether additional specific criminal offences are required
  • what changes may be required to the civil court system
  • the support available for victims and their experiences when going through the system
  • the time taken to complete cases (both criminal and civil)
  • the availability of statistics to build evidence bases, particularly in relation to civil cases
  • training for professionals within the justice system, multi-agency working and opportunities for learning and spreading good practice
  • the impact of justice interventions in changing both perpetrator behaviour and wider public attitudes

4. Accountability

This workstream is being coordinated by Scottish Women's Aid in partnership with the Improvement Service. It is developing a Performance Framework with appropriate outcomes and indicators to:

  • enable us to measure our performance and progress
  • support strategic investment planning to ensure that women and girls throughout Scotland benefit from consistently high-quality services



Joint Chairs

  • Siobhian Brown MSP, Minister for Victims and Community Safety
  • Councillor Maureen Chalmers, spokesperson for Community Safety and Wellbeing, COSLA


  • Amanda Coulthard, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers
  • Anna Mitchell, Systems Change, Safe and Together
  • Catriona Kirkpatrick, third sector specialist, Engender
  • Eddie Doherty, health, NHS
  • Emma Forbes, Justice, COPFS
  • Joanna MacDonald, social care, SG
  • Karen Allen, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers
  • Karyn McClusky, Community Justice Scotland
  • Kelly McIntosh, Association of Directors of Education Scotland
  • Laura Tomson, Zero Tolerance
  • Linda Thompson, third sector specialist, Women’s Support Project
  • Lucy Denvir, public health
  • Mariam Ahmed, third sector specialist, AMINA
  • Marsha Scott, third sector specialist, Scottish Women’s Aid
  • Molly McGoran, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Sandy Brindley, third sector specialist, Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Sophie Gwyther, Violence Against Women Partnership Network




Email: ceu@gov.scot 

Telephone: 0131 244 4000

Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board
Scottish Government
3H North
Victoria Quay

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