Every person and every community deserves to be treated fairly and have every opportunity to fulfil their potential – as a modern progressive and outward looking country Scotland will benefit if it can draw on the talents of all our people.
This desire for a just and fair society is core to the Scottish Government's purpose: to create an even more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increased wellbeing, and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. This report sets out the continuing progress we are making in mainstreaming equality and diversity as an employer and as a decision maker.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shown us how those individuals and communities who already experience the greatest inequality in society are the ones who are most negatively affected by catastrophic events. Simultaneously, it has also shown how, by working together with a shared sense of compassion and community we have been able to respond to this crisis in a way that demonstrates the strengths and values that bind us as a nation.
I am grateful to our communities and the front line organisations supporting them day in day out, who together have contributed to our collective response to this pandemic. This contribution has in large measure helped to inform and to shape this Government's response in a way that meets the needs of people who have been disproportionately affected and which responds to the inequalities upon which the pandemic has shone a bright light.
However, as we recover and rebuild from this crisis, it is more important than ever to work with our communities to understand how they have been affected by the pandemic and to use that understanding to inform our responses now and in the future.
For example, in response to reports at a UK-wide and international level that some Minority Ethnic (ME) groups may be at risk of experiencing disproportionate effects from the COVID-19 pandemic we established an Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity to consider and inform the Scottish Government's approach in relation to the impacts of COVID-19 on ME communities. The ERG reported in November 2020 and we are considering how the findings from this report will inform our thinking as we move forward.
We also created a Social Renewal Advisory Board (SRAB), the purpose of which was to drive progress towards a fairer, more equal Scotland in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The SRAB reported on 21 January 2021 and drew upon the expertise of equality and disabled people's organisations, housing and homelessness bodies, town centre and regeneration groups, and anti-poverty campaigners. The Board's advice to government is now under active consideration.
We cannot look at equality in isolation and I am pleased that at a time when the freedoms we enjoy through our human rights are in the spotlight, we are progressing the recommendations set out in the First Minister's Advisory Group on Human Rights (FMAG) to create a human rights framework for Scotland. The National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership, which was established in early 2019 to progress the recommendations made by FMAG, has reported on its work. The Taskforce has recommended in its report that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) are incorporated into domestic legislation as part of a broader aim to incorporate internationally recognised human rights.
Embedding equality and human rights across all aspects of Government policy and practice is critical to our approach. That's why the Programme for Government published in September 2020 makes a commitment to refresh our approach to this vital work, by developing an equality and human rights mainstreaming strategy, which is underpinned by a comprehensive approach to improving data collation and analysis; we also committed to ensuring that the voices of those impacted shape our approach and policies.
Equally our National Performance Framework has equality and human rights at its heart and a National Outcome to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, challenging us to ensure that our efforts reach all of Scotland's people. This report sets out some of the key work across portfolios and as an organisation that we have taken forward to meet those ambitions.
In looking to the future, we have developed, in consultation with a range of equality stakeholders, our new Equality Outcomes from 2021 to 2025 and I am grateful to all of those people who have contributed to their development. These outcomes sit alongside the commitment to integrate equality into our day to day business and the raft of policies and strategies across Government which are delivering improvements for communities. They increasingly align with our ambitions to ensure that equality and human rights are mainstreamed and embedded across all aspects of Government business.
In closing, I want to ensure that we can take the learning from this pandemic to inform the way ahead. It is this learning which will be key in both shaping and driving change. I want to see a Scotland that is inclusive, a Scotland that is a safe and prosperous place to live, a Scotland that recognises the value of and celebrates the diversity of its people. A nation that values our relationships beyond our borders. By working together we will deliver this ambition.
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