Article 4: Special measures to accelerate equality
1. Adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women shall not be considered discrimination as defined in the present Convention, but shall in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved.
2. Adoption by States Parties of special measures, including those measures contained in the present Convention, aimed at protecting maternity shall not be considered discriminatory.
4.1 The First Ministers National Advisory Council on Women and Girls
An Advisory Council on Women and Girls has been established to help drive forward action to tackle gender inequality. The role of the Advisory Council is to raise awareness of gender inequality; to act as a champion for positive progress and policies, and to provide effective challenge and be a catalyst for change where progress simply isn't good enough. The council is chaired by Louise Macdonald OBE, Chief Executive of Young Scot and has members from the third sector, government and business – including three members aged under 20 years old.
The Council will have a key leadership role in raising our awareness as a nation of gender inequality and the wide range of related issues experienced by women and girls in Scotland today.
- Act as a champion for positive progress and policies where these are making a meaningful difference to women and girls' lives; and encouraging Scotland to build on any success to become a beacon for gender equality;
- Act as a catalyst for change by providing a challenging voice to the First Minister and her government, and to actors in wider society, particularly where there are gaps in the work being undertaken to address gender inequality or where progress and policies are not effecting real change.
The Council first met on 6 December 2017 and again on 6 March 2018.
4.2 Funding for organisations focused on tackling gender inequality
The Scottish Government is committed to creating a modern, inclusive Scotland which protects, respects and realises internationally recognised human rights. The Scottish Government provides funding to a variety of organisations and projects that promote equality of opportunity for women and men in Scotland, this includes almost £1.2 million from the Equality budget to support a range of organisations focused on tackling gender inequality. Similar amounts will be invested in 2018-2020.
4.3 Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018
Using new powers transferred to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act 2016, the Scottish Government committed to bring forward legislation to improve the representation of women on the boards of public bodies in Scotland.
The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 was introduced on 15 June 2017. The Bill sets a gender representation objective for a public board that it has 50% of non-executive members who are women.
The Bill received good cross-party support with the exception of the Scottish Conservatives who voted against the general principles of the Bill at stage 1.
The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 9 March 2018.
4.4 Celebrating the Centenary of Women's Suffrage
The Representation of the People Act 1918 extended the vote to some women in the United Kingdom for the first time. In the same year, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act allowed women to stand for election to become a Member of Parliament.
The centenary is an opportunity to remember and pay tribute to the individual women whose actions through the suffrage movement and to the war effort in 1914-18, eventually made Parliament take heed and grant at least some women the vote. It would, of course, take another 10 years and the passing of the Equal Franchise Act 1928 for women to be granted the vote on same terms as men.
On 6 February 2018 the First Minister announced that £500,000 has been made available to celebrate and commemorate the passing of the Representation of the People Act 1918 and to look forward to the future and how we can best support women's political participation here and now.