National Advisory Council on Women and Girls report: Scottish Government response

Scottish Government's Response to the First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) 2020 Report and Recommendation on policy coherence. The recommendations are challenging the Scottish Government to do more to tackle gender inequality in Scotland.


In 2017, the First Minister appointed the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG), to advise the Scottish Government on what action is needed to achieve gender equality in Scotland. It is made up of 17 women and girls aged 17+, from different backgrounds, and is co-chaired by Louise Macdonald, formerly Chief Executive of Young Scot, and Dr Ima Jackson, a Senior Lecturer in the Department for Nursing and Community Health at Glasgow Caledonian University.

The NACWG agreed a three-year work plan from 2018 to 2020, choosing to explore a different topic each year. It published its 2018 first annual report on the topic of Attitudes and Culture Change in January 2019, setting out 11 recommendations for the Scottish Government in areas from education to justice, women’s political representation and childcare.

The NACWG published its 2019 second annual report in January 2020 on the topic of “Policy Coherence”. In this report, the NACWG was interested in exploring how policies are made, the processes and people that are involved in policy-making and the environment and culture within which policy-makers operate. The NACWG concluded that significant improvement is needed to ensure that policy-making is gender-sensitive and capable of realising the best outcomes for women and girls, and it made six recommendations to the Scottish Government addressing areas such as leadership, resourcing and accountability.

A list of the NACWG’s 2018 and 2019 recommendations to the Scottish Government can be found at Annex B, together with a brief summary of the action we are taking to deliver these recommendations.

This report is the Scottish Government’s response to the NACWG’s 2020 third annual report on the topic of “Creating an Intersectional Gender Architecture”, which it published in January 2021. In doing so, the NACWG brought its initial three-year work plan to a close.

In its 2020 annual report, the NACWG has focused on the wider ‘gender architecture’ that exists to support gender equality. It defines “gender architecture” as “the structures that are designed to advance women’s equality and rights – like ministries, regulators, equality laws, duties, indicators, policy processes and any accountability mechanisms”.

The NACWG says that the current gender architecture does not work for all women and girls and that equality falls short in many places due to a lack of awareness about how intersecting inequality and multiple oppression can perpetuate poorer outcomes for the most marginalised women and girls.

Intersectionality simply isn’t hardwired into the fabric of our systems, says the NACWG, and this needs to change.

In order to deliver the change required, the NACWG calls on the Scottish Government to advocate for the full devolution of equal opportunities, to integrate intersectional gender budgeting into the Scottish Budget process, to place certain additional legislative duties on public authorities and expand the remit of the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC).

This report sets out our response to the NACWG’s recommendations and how we will take them forward them in such a way as to deliver better outcomes for all women and girls.

The NACWG also makes recommendations to the Scottish Parliament and the SHRC. We touch briefly upon these recommendations in our response, but we recognise that it is for the Scottish Parliament and the SHRC to consider and respond to these recommendations.

Our final chapter sets out the future planned direction of the NACWG, now that its initial three-year work plan has come to an end.



Back to top