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 1: Elimination of discrimination

For the purposes of the present Convention, the term "discrimination against women" shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

Equality legislation is largely reserved to the UK Government. The Equality Act 2010 applies across Great Britain and protects people from sex discrimination in areas of their lives such as employment, education, accessing goods and services and membership of clubs and associations.

1.1 Public Sector Equality Duty

The Equality Act 2010 places a duty (generally known as the public sector equality duty or PSED) on public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and to foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. In Scotland, the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 require most Scottish public authorities to undertake a range of activities that enable the better performance of the PSED. Those activities include: reporting on mainstreaming equality; setting equality outcomes and reporting on progress; carrying out equality impact assessments; gathering, using and publishing employee information; publishing a gender pay gap and an equal pay statement setting out equal pay policy; and information on occupational segregation.

Scottish Ministers also published proposals in 2013 to help Scottish public authorities to improve performance of the public sector equality duty. The work undertaken has included promoting good practice and knowledge transfer, and improving national and local data and evidence on equality. A review of the effectiveness of the public sector equality duty will be undertaken in 2018, with a view to implementing any changes from April 2019 onwards.

1.2 The Socio-economic Duty

The Equality Act 2010 contained provisions for a duty on some public authorities to have due regard to the promotion of equality for those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage. This Socio-Economic Duty remained un-commenced by the UK Government. However, the power to commence this duty for Scottish public authorities was devolved to the Scottish Parliament in 2016. Following a consultation exercise, Angela Constance, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security, Communities and Equalities, brought the new duty into force on 1 April 2018, renaming it the Fairer Scotland Duty; signalling more clearly what it was aiming to do.

Interim guidance on the Duty was published in April 2018 and looks to build on existing practice and provide public bodies with some flexibility on how to meet the duty in a three year implementation phase.

1.3 Minority Ethnic Women

In December 2017 the Race Equality Action Plan was published, setting out key actions for the current parliamentary session to drive positive change for minority ethnic communities. The plan acknowledges that there is a particular disadvantage for women from minority ethnic groups within the labour market. As such the Plan includes an action to: 'work in partnership with key delivery partners to develop and co-ordinate a Minority Ethnic Women's network to develop skills and understanding for women to participate in local and national decision making processes.'

The Race Equality Framework for Scotland (REF), published in March 2016, was developed to advance race equality and address the barriers that prevent people from minority ethnic communities realising their potential.

The Race Equality Framework Implementation Approach, published in February 2017, looks at how the Framework can remain responsive and flexible to accommodate new evidence and change in the demographic and policy environments.

Intersectionality is a key principle underpinning the Framework. In summer 2016, the Scottish Government held a series of intersectional engagement activities, which specifically included stakeholders that represented disabled and older people, giving these groups the opportunity to discuss the delivery of and future actions in the Framework.

Throughout 2017 a series of Framework-themed roundtables have been held, involving policy officials and key experts from a range of statutory and third sector organisations and from academia.

1.4 Support for Gypsy/Travellers

The Scottish Government recognises that Gypsy/Traveller communities are among the most discriminated against in Scotland and is committed to tackling all forms of discrimination and promoting a multi-cultural society based on mutual trust, respect and understanding.

The Scottish Government has allocated over £300,000 from the Equality Fund to organisations working with Gypsy/Traveller and Roma communities in 2017-18. A Race Equality Action Plan was published in December 2017 that includes specific Scottish Government led activities for Gypsy/Travellers. Furthermore, a Ministerial Working Group, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, has been established with membership including Ministers for: Local Government and Housing, Childcare and Early Years; Employability and Training and Public Health and Sport.

The Working Group will determine priorities for action and drive forward the changes required to start making improvements for Gypsy/Travellers across a range of issues in 2018.

Policy information on Gypsy/Travellers is published on the Scottish Government's Equality webpage.


The Scottish Government is considered to be one of the most progressive countries in Europe regarding LGBTI equality and has a very clear position on promoting LGBTI rights. For example, the Scottish Government made provision through the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 for same sex couples to marry, uses an inclusive definition of gender identity in its hate crime legislation, and added intersex equality to its approach to sexual orientation and gender identity equality and now uses the acronym LGBTI to support the inclusion of intersex people in Scotland.

In order to continue to progress LGBTI equality, the Scottish Government committed in Action 13 of its Fairer Scotland Action Plan to "review and reform gender recognition law so it's in line with international best practice for people who are transgender or intersex".

A consultation on the The Gender Recognition Act 2004 was opened 9 November 2017 and closed on 1 March 2018, this consultation sought views on whether and how the Gender Recognition Act 2004 should be amended in relation to the law in Scotland. The Scottish Government will use the views expressed in response to this consultation to help inform the Government's decisions about further action.

Because people with intersex variations face issues that are distinct from those experienced by transgender people the Scottish Government will consult separately on this and seek views about how we should address the issues experienced by intersex people/people with variations of sex characteristics.

The Scottish Government has added intersex equality to its approach to sexual orientation and gender identity equality, and has provided £45,000 each year since 2015-16 to the Equality Network to facilitate engagement.

1.6 Disabled Women

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People - Our Delivery Plan to 2021 for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was published in December 2016.

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People has five long-term ambitions aimed at changing the lives of disabled people in Scotland and ensuring that their human rights are realised. The plan sets out 93 actions which will be taken forward during the current parliamentary term, and includes halving the employment gap for disabled people; setting a target to increase the percentage of disabled people in the public sector workforce; and increasing supply of wheelchair accessible housing.

1.7 A Gender Index for Scotland

An action identified in the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, published in October 2016, was to develop a Gender Index to track progress of indicators relevant to economic growth and across national and local areas. The Scottish Gender Index should enable the Scottish Government to draw out differences in gender equality and barriers to women's progress. This will provide insight on where specific problems or barriers may need to be addressed in order to accelerate progress on gender equality and the reduction of the gender pay gap.

A Gender Index Working Paper was published in September 2017, which describes the process that the Scottish Government has followed to date to explore producing a Gender Index that brings together a range of indicators on inequalities facing both women and men in Scotland. The Scottish Government is working with stakeholders to develop the Gender Index into a robust and meaningful dataset.

1.8 Non-Governmental Organisations

The Scottish Government is committed to engagement with the third sector and community based organisations to ensure women's voices are heard.

The Scottish Government provides funding of almost £1.2 million from the Equality budget to organisations and projects that promote equality of opportunity for women in Scotland including - Engender, the Scottish Women's Convention, Close the Gap, Equate Scotland, the Glasgow Women's Library; Workers Education Association (WEA) Women in the Highlands and the Young Women's Movement (YWCA).

Funding under the Equality Budget has been confirmed for 2017-19, and indicative amounts for 2019-20 have been provided. Final figures to be confirmed once the Equality Budget has been set for 2019-20 financial year.


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