Equally Safe is Scotland's Strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls. The aim of the strategy is to foster collaborative working between partners across society to achieve a Scotland in which women and girls are safe to thrive, fulfilling their potential free from violence and abuse.
Equally Safe recognises that women and girls are disproportionately affected by various forms of violence and abuse precisely because they are women and girls, and that perpetrators of such violence are overwhelmingly male.
It recognises that this violence is an abuse of power and stems from deep rooted and systemic gender inequality and the subordinate position women occupy in society in relation to men.
As such, the strategy challenges the notion that violence against women and girls is inevitable or acceptable and prioritises primary prevention. We believe this is the best route to tackle and challenge the attitudes that underpin violence against women and girls and ultimately prevent it taking place. This is a long term ambition, but by promoting gender equality, preventing gender-based violence and responding effectively when it occurs now, we continue to challenge and change the attitudes which enable such violence and abuse to flourish. We also need to ensure that interventions are early and effective, helping to prevent violence from recurring and maximising the safety and wellbeing of women, children and young people. And we need to ensure that men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls, and that perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and effective response.
For the purposes of the strategy and this delivery plan, violence against women and girls includes (but is not limited to):
- Domestic abuse
- Sexual Violence (including harassment, sexual assault and rape, and child sexual abuse)
- Commercial sexual exploitation
- Child sexual exploitation
- So called "Honour"-based violence, including female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
The definition we have adopted of violence against women and girls explicitly includes children of all genders as subject to harm through violence and we reflect this in our delivery plan. This reflects the Scottish Government's commitment to developing and implementing relevant pieces of legislation, including the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill and the new Human Rights Bill, in a way that meaningfully embeds the experiences and recommendations of survivors of abuse.
Since the Delivery Plan was published in 2017 much work has been undertaken and real headway made. Further information on this can be found in our report Equally Safe: final report - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) which outlines progress made since then, including actions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2017 Equally Safe Delivery Plan ended in 2021. It was agreed with stakeholders that a high level, interim Delivery Plan should be developed to run until the Autumn of 2023. This approach allows us collectively the time to shape a complete renewal of the Equally Safe Strategy and Delivery Plan, taking account of the post-Covid landscape, developing policy areas such as the growing focus on misogyny and the findings of the Violence Against Women and Girls: Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning Services.
The refreshed interim Delivery Plan contains a total of 33 different actions across four overarching priorities in order to help us do this. The actions and activities in the plan are designed to deliver against our priorities and associated objectives. Our priorities are:
Priority 1 – Scottish society embraces equality and mutual respect, and rejects all forms of violence against women and girls.
Priority 2 – Women and girls thrive as equal citizens: socially, culturally, economically and politically.
Priority 3 – Interventions are early and effective, preventing violence and maximising the safety and wellbeing of women, children and young people.
Priority 4 – Men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls, and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and effective response.
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