Article 14: Rural women
1. States Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetized sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of the present Convention to women in rural areas.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right:
(a) To participate in the elaboration and implementation of development planning at all levels;
(b) To have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counselling and services in family planning;
(c) To benefit directly from social security programmes;
(d) To obtain all types of training and education, formal and non-formal, including that relating to functional literacy, as well as, inter alia, the benefit of all community and extension services, in order to increase their technical proficiency;
(e) To organise self-help groups and co-operatives in order to obtain equal access to economic opportunities through employment or self- employment;
(f) To participate in all community activities;
(g) To have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes;
(h) To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, and transport and communications.
14.1 Women in Agriculture
In 2016, the Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division ( RESAS) commissioned research on Women in farming and the Agriculture Sector. The overall purpose of this research was to "establish a baseline position on women in farming and the agriculture sector, which then will influence future policies to enhance the role of women in these sectors going forward". The specific aim of this research project is to investigate the role of women in farming and the agriculture sector in Scotland under five headings: daily life; aspirations; career paths; leadership; and comparative analysis with other family businesses.
The Scottish Government responded to the 'Women in Farming and the Agricultural Sector' Research Report published on 23 June 2017 by announcing the formation of a task force, co-chaired by Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, and Joyce Campbell, a working farmer and entrepreneur based in North Sutherland who, along with the other members, are committed to developing and driving forward real change.
14.2 Forensic Examination
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring women in rural locations have access to vital services. With the creation of the £20 million Violence Against Women and Girls Justice budget an additional £1.85 million was provided over three years to Rape Crisis Scotland to safeguard the existing National Sexual Violence Prevention Co-ordinator post; expand capacity of the existing network of 14 rape crisis centres across Scotland and establish a rape crisis service on Orkney and Shetland in partnership with Women's Aid and the Highland Centre. This work has been a success and, in particular, the work of the advocacy workers in the islands has given victims a voice which has focussed efforts of Government and led to commitments from both Health Boards to deliver local services for adult victims who require a forensic medical examination.
In August 2017 Mr Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Justice visited each local rape crisis centre in Shetland and Orkney and attended meetings with NHS partners, confirming our commitment to do all we can to move this agenda forward and deliver a consistent service across Scotland, which meets the needs of victims.
On 17 August 2017 additional funding of £76,000 to NHS Education Scotland ( NES) was announced to make the current training course for doctors who want to receive training more accessible and portable. This will be piloted in Shetland over coming months. This funding will also see the appointment of a lead clinician to work with NES to become a champion for forensic medical services and to offer a mentoring service to newly trained doctors.
14.3 Access to Broadband
The Scottish Government recognises it is particularly critical for remote and rural communities to be digitally connected in terms of economic viability and growth. Modern digital connectivity is one of the essential components of creating a successful country. For businesses and social enterprises, it enhances productivity and drives innovation. In rural communities and fragile areas, it has the potential to boost economic development, retain young people and attract new residents. Connectivity, both fixed and mobile, is central to the successful development of emerging sectors such as renewables, digital healthcare and cloud computing, but also to more traditional sectors, such as tourism or business services, which are increasingly using digital technologies.
Scotland's Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan outlines the commitment to a world-class, future-proofed infrastructure that will deliver digital connectivity across the whole of Scotland by 2020. So far, over £240 million of public sector funding has been committed to taking forward the Infrastructure Action plan.
The Scottish Government understands the fundamental need for efficient transport and connectivity in our rural communities, particularly for the benefit of women. Annually, the Scottish Government provides over £1 billion for public transport and other sustainable options and are fully engaged with the Regional Transport Partnerships to ensure specific issues for each area are addressed within our national plans. A passenger rail service has been successfully reintroduced to the Borders for the first time since 1969, opening up communities in the South-East of Scotland as new places to live, work and visit. The Scottish Government will also examine the case for an extension of the railway along with improvements to the A1, A7, and A68. Scottish Rural Action, as a member of the National Transport Strategy Review Partnership Group, is having a say in influencing the development of transport policy, infrastructure and services at local, regional and national level, as the Scottish Government takes the National Transport Strategy Review forward. The review will produce a successor strategy, setting out a compelling vision for the kind of transport system we want for Scotland over the next 20 years. One of the review working groups is focussing on tackling inequality and will set out policy proposals on how transport can assist in addressing inequality and differences between groups of people to make Scotland a fairer place.
Scotland's first Accessible Travel Framework was launched in September 2016. 48 key barriers to accessible travel were identified by disabled people's organisations. They are now working with transport operators, local government and the Scottish Government as part of the steering group to implement the Framework's ten year plan to tackle these. The Framework contains a vision and four outcomes which were agreed by disabled people, their representatives and people who work in transport. The vision is that "all disabled people can travel with the same freedom, choice and dignity and opportunity as other citizens". The Framework has been developed in close engagement with disabled people from across Scotland and one of its aims is to change the way we do things throughout transport, to include disabled people to make improvements in transport accessibility. The Framework details how that engagement will continue over the next ten years.
On 25 August 2017 the Scottish Government launched a consultation on the future of the national concessionary travel scheme. The consultation sought views on options to safeguard the longer term sustainability of the existing free bus travel scheme and on providing free bus travel to young modern apprentices to support their travel costs. The consultation closed on 17 November with close to 3,000 responses. This is a considerable response and the views expressed are being carefully considered. No decisions have been taken yet about possible changes to the scheme but Ministers have given assurances that anyone who already enjoys a concessionary bus pass will continue to keep it.
14.5 Social Isolation
The challenge presented by isolation is keenly felt by many in our rural communities. The National Rural Mental Health Forum has been established to help people in rural areas maintain good mental health and wellbeing.
On 16 January 2018, the Scottish Government published " A Connected Scotland: Tackling social isolation and loneliness and building stronger social connections" for consultation. Although this is a draft strategy, it clearly sets out the Government's vision for a Scotland where individuals and communities are more connected and everyone has the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships regardless of age, status, circumstance or identity.
Because social isolation and loneliness can affect anyone at any point in life, this draft strategy does not seek to present a comprehensive list of groups affected by social isolation. However the Scottish Government recognises that woman can be at particular risk for a number of reasons. For example, life events such as becoming a young mother can leave women feeling isolated due to the fact they suddenly find themselves with different priorities from peers that make up their social network.
The final strategy will be shaped through engagement with stakeholders and communities in line with our commitment to coproducing solutions with communities.