Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women: position statement

Our position statement on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Article 8: Women as international representatives

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure to women, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of international organisations.

8.1 Women's Representation in Political and Public Life

Scotland is one of the few countries in the world to have a gender balanced cabinet. This has been the case since 2014.

The Scottish Parliament, which is just over a third female, has better gender representation than the UK, however there is still work to be done to achieve a gender balanced parliament. 35% of members in the Scottish Parliament are women and 29% of councillors are women. 59% of ministerial public appointments made in Scotland in 2016 were women.

8.2 Access to Elected Office Fund

The Scottish Government is determined to increase the representation of disabled people in our democratic institutions: the Access to Elected Office Fund Scotland that supported candidates for local authority elections in May 2017 where 15 disabled candidates were successful, of which seven are women. This Fund will remain in place until the Scottish Parliament elections in 2021. The fund helps to meet the additional costs disabled people face when seeking election.

8.3 Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018

The Scottish Government introduced the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 on 15 June 2017. The Bill sets a "gender representation objective" for public boards in Scotland that 50% of the board's non-executive members are women, and requires certain steps to be taken in the appointing of non-executive members to achieve the objective. The Bill also requires steps to be taken to encourage women to apply to become a non- executive member of a public board.

The bill passed stage 3 on 30 January 2018 and received Royal Assent on 9 March 2018.

8.4 Partnership for Change

The Scottish Government does not have power to legislate in relation to women's representation on private company or third sector boards. In June 2015 the First Minister launched the Partnership for Change: 50/50 by 2020 campaign. This campaign asked the private sector, public sector and third sector to commit to making progress on gender balance by putting in place progressive practices in their business and signing up to the 'Partnership for Change' by setting a voluntary commitment to work towards gender balance on their boards by 2020 – 50/50 by 2020.

As of April 2018 there are 217 signatories to the Partnership for Change.

8.5 Electoral Reform

Under the Scotland Act 2016 the Scottish Parliament and Government have new powers and responsibilities relating to elections to the Scottish Parliament. These complement their existing responsibilities for local government elections.

The Scottish Government is committed to increasing participation in elections, both in terms of voter turnout and encouraging citizens to stand for election. Democratic participation challenges the inequalities of power and influence that exist in society. We need an electoral system that supports and empowers the engagement of the Scottish people in their own elections.

The Scottish Government launched its Electoral Reform consultation ran between 19 December 2017 and 29 March 2018. It is the first step towards these reforms and includes a number of suggestions as to how the new powers could be used. The Scottish Government will use the results of this consultation process to develop policy proposals that may be taken forward in future legislation.

We know that, at both local and national levels, the diversity of Scotland's population is not properly reflected in structures of governance. The Scottish Government believes that fair, proportionate representation at both local and national levels is essential to achieving equality. It is important that those individuals and communities who are at greatest risk of lower representation are enabled to contribute to decision making, in order to reach relevant solutions and build capacity and wellbeing.

The consultation asked for other actions that the Scottish Government could take to widen access to, and remove barriers to voting an elected office and best support gender balance in those elected as MSPs or local councillors.

8.6 Gender Balanced Cabinet

In 2014 the First Minister appointed a gender balanced cabinet, after pledging to put equality at the heart of government. There has been a gender balanced cabinet in Scotland since. The First Minister has said that this is a clear demonstration the Scottish Government will work hard in all areas to promote women, to create gender equality and it sends out a strong message that the business of redressing the gender balance in public life starts in government.


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