Supporting gender equality

First Minister appointed UN Women Global Advocate.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been appointed the inaugural #HeForShe Global Advocate by UN Women, with the Scottish Government becoming signatories to the UN Women’s global solidarity movement for gender equality which engages men and boys as advocates for equality.

As a Global Advocate, the First Minister has pledged to make concrete commitments to advancing gender equality around the world and support UN Women in their work to end global gender inequality.

The announcement was made during a meeting with the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, in New York.

The First Minister also announced a new pilot project to reduce rates of early and child marriage in rural areas of Malawi as part of a further Scottish Government partnership with UN Women.

She confirmed funding of £113,000 for the UN Women Malawi project ‘WeLearn – A Virtual Skills School Pilot’ as part of her North America programme.

The project will empower young women and girls with information, skills and support networks to reduce social and economic isolation. It will also educate the wider community, and members of both sexes, about gender inequalities and the damaging impact child marriage has on a young person’s education.

The First Minister said:

“Progressing gender equality supports a basic human right and will help people flourish and reach their full potential, which will ultimately create a wealthier and fairer society.”

“Gender equality and a commitment to education are fundamental shared values. I want to ensure Scotland is a good global citizen, supporting the UN’s Goals both at home and in our partner countries, including Malawi.

“Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, mostly affecting girls with less education and in rural areas. The Scottish Government will do everything we can to tackle the injustices and hardships faced by many young girls and women around the globe.

“The Scottish Government has signed up to the UN’s #HeForShe campaign because it is vital we continue to make progress with gender equality. I am honoured to have been asked to be their first Global Advocate.”

UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said:

"It is my honour to announce today Her Excellency Ms. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, as an inaugural HeForShe Global Advocate for Gender Equality. The First Minister is already leading the way in her own government with a gender balanced cabinet. 

“So, she is in a unique position to now galvanize the men and boys of Scotland to further advance gender equality, with a strong focus on youth. UN Women is delighted to partner with the First Minister to drive meaningful, lasting change and a more equal world for all.”


The First Minister met UN Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in New York in 2017 to discuss the role Scotland can play in tackling gender based violence.

The Scottish Government, through its International Development Programme, contributes to sustainable development and the fight against poverty, injustice and inequality internationally in its partner countries (Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda and Pakistan), within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Current gender based violence initiatives supported by the Scottish Government include support for Police Scotland to work with their counterparts in Malawi and Zambia.


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