National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) 2019 - report and recommendations: SG response

Scottish Government's Response to the First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) 2019 Report and Recommendation on Policy Coherence. The recommendations are challenging the Scottish Government to do more to tackle gender inequality in Scotland.

Annex B: Update on Implementation of the NACWG's 2018 Recommendations

The NACWG's 2018 and first report on the topic of Attitudes and Culture Change was published on 25 January 2019. It sets out 11 recommendations for action, in areas including the criminal justice system, education, childcare, and women's political representation. The Scottish Government published its response[17] on 26 June 2019. The following table provides an update on the Scottish Government's progress to implement each of the recommendations.



1.) Create a 'What Works?' Institute to develop and test robust, evidence-led inclusive and representative approaches to changing public attitudes in Scotland to girls and women's equality and rights, including dismantling stereotypes about what girls and women should study, work at, and be. The Institute will be the place where "good learning" happens and where specialist gender support can be accessed that will give public bodies; the third sector and business the tools to act to change the culture on women's equality.

The Scottish Government's Equality Unit funded research, managed by Zero Tolerance, to investigate and develop a model for the What Works? Gender Institute, which would best realise the ambition of the NACWG. This research work was undertake by the Collective, a group of 3 researchers – Talat Yaqoob, Kate Nevens, and Ellie Hutchinson. The researchers undertook a robust literature review, worked with the Research Advisory Group (RAG), key individuals and organisations to develop potential models for the institute.

The final research report along with Zero Tolerance's recommendations for the next phase of development of the Gender Institute have been submitted to the Scottish Government for its consideration with next steps to be announced in the New Year.

2.) Legislate for local and national candidate quotas for all parties by the 2021 election.

This recommendation is currently out with the competency of the Scottish Parliament. In the absence of the ability to take legislative action in this area, the Scottish Government has progressed non-legislative activity in a number of areas:

  • Scottish Ministers wrote to their equivalents in the UK Government in May 2018 to request a meeting to discuss the devolution of powers to the Parliament to introduce political quotas. The UK Government in their reply, declined to meet Scottish Ministers. We intend to write again to the UK Government.
  • A scoping review of international practice in relation to candidate quotas has been prepared, and will be published on the Scottish Government website in early 2021.

The Scottish Government is considering how to improve our equality data collection, to inform and monitor progress on promoting diversity of elected representatives in Scotland.

The Scottish Government is also supporting a number of non-legislative initiatives to increase women's representation, including:

CoSLA's Cross Party Barriers to Elected Office Special Interest Group – The Scottish Government is extending the funding of a post based in CoSLA, until September 2021 to support this group. SG officials are currently in discussion with CoSLA to maximise the impact of this post, including issues such as remuneration and support and training for new councillors.

Equal Representation project – The Scottish Government's Equality Unit is funding Engender to progress the Equal Representation project. The Equal Representation project post will work with political parties to increase the representation of diverse women, and to progress a second phase of work with the Equal Representation Coalition which in its first phase of work developed a toolkit for political parties. This grouping of national equalities organisations brought together stakeholders working for BME, LGBTI, women's, and disabled people's representation.

Young Women Lead – The Scottish Government funds the Young Women's Movement's leadership programme for young women aged 30 and under living in Scotland. The programme provides a safe space for up to 100 young women to explore gender equality and develop new and innovative ways to lead change. The latest cohort of young women were minority ethnic women. This was in response to the extreme lack of minority ethnic women's representation in Scotland.

Scotland's Women Stand – The Scottish Government funded the Young Women's Movement and The Parliament Project to run a national campaign and event in Parliament to celebrate women in politics and look forward to gender balance in political representation. The two elements of the project were a nine month digital campaign encouraging women to increase their political engagement and consider standing for elected office and a Women's takeover of the Scottish Parliament on 7 September 2019, with 300 women coming together to celebrate, discuss and learn about standing for political office.

3.) Carry out a thematic gender review of the new National Performance Framework as a catalyst for system analysis and change.

This will be taken forward as part of the next NPF review. Periodic reviews of the framework are mandated by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, and are undertaken to ensure that the framework continues to drive increased wellbeing.

4.) Create a 'Gender Beacon Collaborative' – made up of Scottish Government, a Local Authority, a public body, a third sector agency and a business to take a holistic and systemic approach to gender equality and work to having it embedded in all of its activities from employment to strategy to delivery. Supported by gender experts (and the What Works? Institute above) the outcome would be the creation of a model which has been proven to be successful; that creates a pathway for others to follow and will then be replicated across all public bodies.

Equality Unit officials have completed a further round of stakeholder engagement on the Gender Beacon Collaborative (GBC). From the feedback received, the Scottish Government have produced a potential model for the Collaborative, which we are gathering wider views on.

There is considerable gender equality work already underway in each sector and this model will ensure that organisations build on the progress that they have already made and thus is in keeping with the work of the NACWG regarding policy coherence.

Colleagues especially those working to support the private sector feel this approach is likely to have much more credibility with employers. In order to ensure that all relevant views are heard, officials are engaging with intermediary organisations across the public, private and third sector. These discussion are at an advanced stage, however, were temporarily paused due to COVID-19. Following the completion of this work further detail about the model and timeline for the Collaborative will be provided.

Implementation models and timelines for the Collaborative are currently being reassessed as a result of COVID-19. The lockdown measures designed to limit the consequences of the virus are having a significant impact on organisations in all sectors, reducing capacity for implementing the GBC, disrupting working practices, preventing implementation of some gender equality processes and skewing progression data. Following the temporary pause in the work to implement the GBC during the height of the pandemic in Scotland, work has now restarted to adapt the model currently under consideration to maximise its effectiveness during these unprecedented times.

5.) Improve access to justice for women and girls experiencing men's violence and the culture of violence against women and girls embedded in the fabric of Scottish society by:

a.) Creating a world-leading process for complainers of sexual violence, including trauma-informed forensic medical examination, independent sexual violence advocacy, review of the law on corroboration, and privacy for complainers with regards to the disclosure of their medical records; and

b.) Criminalise serious misogynistic harassment, filling gaps in existing laws.

c.) Work with Scottish Women's Aid, Scottish Women's Rights Centre, Shakti Women's Aid and the Law Society to create a consistent and inclusive model to ensure that women experiencing domestic abuse have sufficient access to expert legal advice and legal aid.

a.) A world-leading process for complainers of sexual violence

The justice system should always take a victim-centred perspective in addressing sexual crime and we are working with all partners – to ensure this happens across the board. We have established the Victims Taskforce to improve support, advice and information for victims of crime and their families as they interact with the Scottish criminal justice system.

The Victims' Taskforce includes a work stream which is chaired by Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women's Aid to consider issues specific to victims of gender based violence. The work plan includes holding a round table discussion on the safeguarding of victim's privacy rights, and perceived barriers to them coming forward to report crimes against them.

We are committed to improving rape and sexual assault survivors' experiences of the justice system and are aware of recent reports highlighting both the progress made and the areas where further improvement is needed. We will work with justice partners, victims' organisations and researchers to carefully consider the findings and continue delivering the changes needed to make a lasting difference.

In addition to this work a judicially led review to improve how sexual offences cases are conducted through the courts, under the leadership of Lady Dorrian, is being undertaken. The Scottish Government will consider any recommendations by the judicially led Review alongside the work of the Victims' Taskforce.

Chief Medical Officer for Scotland's Rape and Sexual Assault Taskforce

At the point of drafting this note the landmark Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill is nearing its final legislative stage in the Scottish Parliament with Stage 3 proceedings expected to be held on 10 December 2020.

The Bill will provide a statutory basis for health boards to provide forensic medical examinations for victims of sexual crime and will establish a legal framework for consistent access to "self-referral". This will mean that a person can access healthcare and request a forensic medical examination without first making a report to the police. The Bill aims to ensure consistent, person centred, trauma informed care and access to recovery for all victims of sexual assault, including where they choose not to make a report to the police at the outset. The Bill was unanimously passed by the Parliament at Stage 1 and 2. More information about the Bill is available here.

The CMO Taskforce has developed a range of products to support delivery of consistent, person-centred, trauma informed healthcare and forensic medical services and access to recovery, for anyone who has experienced rape, sexual assault or child sexual abuse in Scotland.

The package of resources has now gone live to health boards, following a series of successful virtual roadshows that took place at the beginning of November, to provide all relevant health board staff with a detailed explanation of how this package knits together.

The Taskforce has also produced a leaflet which can be given to individuals who present for a forensic medical examination or may be considering this. An Easy Read version has also been produced in partnership with People First and NHS colleagues have led on the design of a leaflet to explain the examination process for young people.

Independent Sexual Violence Advocacy

The Scottish Government continues to recognise the key role that advocacy services play in helping victims come forward and engage with the justice process.

This year (2020/21), the Scottish Government has provided over £1m to support Rape Crisis Scotland's National Advocacy Project – which provides a key support worker in every centre in Scotland to help victims to engage with the criminal justice process. Additionally, Scottish Government provides support and funding to the Scottish Women's Rights Centre, a dedicated service in partnership with RCS, offering legal advice and specialist advocacy to women affected by gender-based violence.

The Scottish Government continues to support the two year pilot project of visual recording rape complainer's initial statement, launched on 1 November 2019. The pilot is run by operational partners, Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Rape Crisis Scotland is providing valuable advocacy support for complainers and are acting as a conduit to those with lived experience to shape the appropriate advocacy support required for victims who access the pilot. It is being trialled in three areas of Scotland which have rural and city locations.


The Scottish Government has previously expressed concerns around corroboration and its impact on access to justice. As there was no parliamentary or legal consensus when Ministers previously proposed removing the corroboration requirement in criminal proceedings, we asked Lord Bonomy to conduct a review into what additional safeguards may be required if corroboration was removed. That review recommended research into jury reasoning and decision-making, to ensure any changes are made on a fully informed basis.

The Scottish Government commissioned independent jury research, which was published in October 2019. From November 2019 through to March 2020, a broad range of stakeholder events took place to seek views on all of the research findings and any implications for other criminal justice reforms, including potentially in relation to corroboration.

The COVID-19 pandemic unavoidably paused activity, as priorities shifted towards the recovery of the criminal justice system. Although the challenges of the pandemic remain, this piece of work has now concluded and the summary of discussions was published in early December.

Although the possibility of abolishing or reforming the corroboration rule was opposed by the majority of participants in the engagement events, the Cabinet Secretary has committed to engaging further with opposition parties later this year to hear their views and will continue to meet survivors who have been affected by these unique aspects of the Scottish system.

b.) Criminalise serious misogynistic harassment, filling gaps in existing laws.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC was announced as the preferred Chair of the Misogynistic Harassment Working Group by the Cabinet Secretary at the Justice Committee on 24 November 2020, and Baroness Kennedy QC has confirmed in discussions with officials that she is content to accept the role. Discussions are still ongoing regarding the membership of the group, and will be decided shortly. Timings for the group are still be to be confirmed, however we expect the first meeting of the group to be held at the first opportunity in January 2021.

c.) Access to expert legal advice and legal aid.

We are supporting the Scottish Women's Rights Centre, increasing women's access to legal advice and legal aid

The SWRC provides improved access to justice through the provision of free support and legal advice to women who have experienced gender based violence. Funding is provided through Scottish Legal Aid Board (up to £230,000 per annum) and Scottish Government - Violence Against Women and Girls & Barnahus Justice budget (up to £351,000 in 2020/21). The funding has enabled geographic expansion to develop locally based legal services launched in 2019 in Inverness and Dundee, and expansion of legal provision in the central belt. The SWRC provide a range of services, including a national helpline, legal surgeries, advocacy services, online legal guides, and the Sexual Harassment Legal Service. The face to face legal surgeries, offering appointments with a solicitor, are also offered in Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Forth Valley. SWRC have engaged in multi-agency meetings to increase access to legal support in other locations, particularly rural areas where availability can be limited.

In addition, work is ongoing to ensure that legal professionals who work with clients who have experienced domestic abuse have access to bespoke trauma-informed training. The Scottish Government have worked with the SWRC to develop a training animation, providing insight into the range of issues a solicitor might face when working on civil domestic abuse cases. The training also seeks to assist technical understanding of the new provisions in the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, and promote a common understanding of the impact of trauma on victims who have been subject to coercive and controlling behaviours. The SWRC have also developed a face to face training package to complement this animation.

Legal Aid Reform

Following a period of public consultation there is support for developing a new statutory framework for a modern, forward-looking and user-centred legal aid service for Scotland.

Working closely with stakeholders we will develop proposals, and give particular consideration to how more targeted and planned interventions can support user need, align with identified government priorities, and assist legal aid in being rightly recognised as an invaluable public service. More targeted provision could improve access to legally aided services in certain geographical areas or for groups with specific legal needs, such as victims of domestic abuse, those with a disability or persons from a BME background.

A small majority of respondents to the public consultation favoured grants or contracts to facilitate exclusive funding arrangements. It was considered that this would assist with access for particular groups such as women affected by domestic abuse, people with disabilities, care experienced children, and those with mental health issues.

Domestic abuse and family law were expressly highlighted by respondents to the Consultation as being areas of law which are currently not served well through legal aid and/or would benefit from more targeted provision.

Disclosure of Medical Records

Scotland's legal system ensures that any complainer in a criminal case whose sensitive records are being sought has a legal right to be heard as the court considers whether to permit access. In addition, the Scottish Government took steps in 2017 to introduce new rights that ensure complainers whose sensitive records are being sought have access to legal aid to oppose such a request where access is required for the complainer to effectively participate in the hearing. There is no means testing of the request for legal aid in this situation.

6.) Create a resourced media body in Scotland, which will publicly review media which is sexist, misogynistic or bigoted; will provide guidance on what gender equal media can looks like and will strengthen the intersectional voices of women in media.

Funding has been awarded to Engender to support a Development Manager post in Gender Equal Media Scotland (GEMS) to lead a project focussed on:

  • Establishing relationships with key media and equalities organisations and convening roundtable meetings with those involved in Scotland's media and cultural institutions.
  • Mapping existing initiatives, resources, campaigns and research around intersectional gender inequality and sexism in media, within Scotland and internationally and assessing existing resources and their effectiveness in creating change.
  • Developing a long-term vision for a Women's Media Body for Scotland, in collaboration with industry experts, academics, campaigners, and the public sector.

The GEMS Development Officer started in her post about a month ago.

7.) Incorporate the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) into Scots Law.

The First Minister's Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership reported on 10 December 2018, with recommendations for a new human rights framework to improve people's lives. The report recommended that a wide range of human rights be included in a new statutory framework for human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights and further specific rights, including rights belonging to women.

We have committed to incorporating CEDAW into Scots Law. The First Minister accepted the recommendations of her National Advisory Council on Women and Girls, which includes incorporation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) into Scots law. There is also a 2020-21 Programme for Government commitment for the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership to work on how best to take forward our commitment to incorporating CEDAW into Scots Law.

The Taskforce have been working with key women's rights stakeholder groups to determine how best to incorporate CEDAW, mostly recently hosting a roundtable with stakeholders on 28 August. The Taskforce has established a women's reference group to explore the topic in more detail. They are due to meet on 14 December.

Discussions with stakeholders will also continue to focus on capacity-building and implementation, ensuring that the framework will make a significant and positive practical difference to the everyday lives of women in Scotland.

The Taskforce will take into account all of these stakeholder views to inform their report next year.

8.) Establish a Commission on Gender Equality in Education and Learning, covering Early Years, Primary and Secondary Education and learning, tasked with providing bold and far-reaching recommendations on how gender equality can be embedded in all aspects of learning (from teacher training, to school behaviours/cultures, to the curriculum and CLD practice).

The Gender Equality Taskforce in Education and Learning, chaired by the Deputy First Minister and #IWill Ambassador Razannah Hussain, first met on 25 February. While development of a number of the Taskforce's aims has slowed due to the impact of the Covid 19 response, work continues to develop a robust, gender competent evidence base. The Taskforce Secretariat is working with Scottish Government Analytical colleagues and members of the Taskforce to commission, from an external analyst, a Theory of Change model which will set out how key interventions and actions will lead to desired short, medium and long term outcomes to achieve gender equality in education and learning. It will also enable understanding of the current mechanisms used to promote gender equality, and will identify where there are gaps. Once this is complete, the Taskforce will consider how best to build upon that evidence base. The last meeting of the Gender Equality Taskforce took place on 16 December 2020.

9.) Provide 50 hours per week of funded, good quality and flexible education and childcare for all children between six months and five years old.

The exceptional circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic mean that it was not realistic or reasonable to expect local authorities to deliver their original expansion plans to secure high quality early learning and childcare experiences for eligible children from August 2020. The Scottish Parliament approved an Order on 1 April which effectively removed the statutory duty on local authorities to deliver 1140 hours of funded early learning and childcare to all 3 and 4 year olds and to eligible 2 year olds, and reinstates the existing duty of 600 hours.

The decision to re-phase the expansion programme and revoke the statutory duty was very difficult for everyone involved in delivering the expansion. However, we are committed to ensuring that the expansion is delivered as quickly, safely and sustainably as possible.

Local authorities and their delivery partners have made tremendous progress in delivering expanded provision despite the impact of the pandemic. In August, 61% of children accessing funded ELC were receiving the full 1140 hours – over 56,000 children – and over 80% were receiving more than the 600 hours statutory entitlement. By the end of November, 14 authorities were offering 1140 hours to all eligible families, with more on track to do so in early 2021.

The Joint Delivery Board has recommended a new statutory implementation date of August 2021, which at the time of writing is under consideration by Scottish Ministers and CoSLA Leaders. We remain committed to ensuring that all eligible children can access their full 1140 hours entitlement as soon as possible, and will take forward legislation to put the new implementation date in statute before the end of this Parliament.

10.) Create two 'Daddy months' of use-it-or-lose-it paid paternity leave in Scotland, using existing and additional powers transferred by UK Government.

The Minister for Business Fair Work and Skills wrote to Kelly Tolhurst MP in January 2020 in response to Chapter One on Parental Leave and Pay within the UK Government's 'Good Work Plan: Proposals to Support Families' consultation and to inform the development of the forthcoming Employment Bill. This chapter focused on the UK Government's overall approach to parental leave and pay, seeking views on how this should be prioritised and different levels of support balanced in order to meet the needs of both parents and employers.

Our response urged the UK government to increase the minimum statutory provision of parental leave from 52 to 64 weeks, with the additional 12 weeks to be the minimum taken by the father/partner on a non-transferable 'use it or lose it' basis. This will be paid at 100% of average weekly earnings for 12 weeks or £150, whichever is lower.

This offer would exceed the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls recommendation by creating three months' of use-it-or-lose-it paid partner leave in Scotland, rather than the two months proposed by the Council.

In addition we also proposed increasing statutory partner leave and pay following the birth of a child by increasing the weekly rate of partner pay to 100% of average weekly earnings for one week then 100% for 2 weeks or £150, whichever is lower. We would also be keen to see the rights of partners improved before the birth of their child by increasing the current entitlement of unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments to paid leave to attend six antenatal appointments.

We continue to press the UK Government to influence the development of the new Employment Bill. Partner Leave provision will form part of the new Bill and our UK counterparts agreed to provide a clearer steer on what they are seeking to achieve through the legislation. The initial timeline for laying the Bill in parliament is expected to be at the end of February 2021 however this may be delayed due to the volume of aspects of the Bill still being at an early stage of development.

In the meantime we continue to tackle gender inequality in the labour market. The actions in our Gender Pay Gap Action Plan are currently being reviewed and repurposed informed by a group of expert stakeholders to ensure women are supported as part of our economic recovery through the pandemic. Through our flagship Fair Work First policy we are attaching Fair Work criteria to grants, other funding, and contracts awarded by and across the public sector. Taking "action to tackle the gender pay gap" is one of five key criteria. This is also a core element of the refreshed Scottish Business Pledge. We continue to fund Close the Gap to challenge and change employment practices and workplace cultures in Scotland. We provide funding to Flexibility Works to support employers to develop flexible working practices in response to the Covid-19 crisis. We are ensuring that activity under the new £100 million package for employment support and training considers and embeds action to tackle workplace inequalities including supporting young women and tackling occupational segregation.

11.) Embed gender sensitive approaches in all work relating to programmes developed through the new Scottish Government "Scottish Approach to Service Design" model.

The Office of the Chief Designer has undertaken a review of best practice in gender sensitive design.

An advisory group comprising colleagues from within Scottish Government (Social Security, Gender Equality Policy, and People Directorate), the third sector (Engender, YoungScot), the educational sector and NHS was set up to review progress, and act as 'critical friends'.

The research to identify barriers that prevent women and girls from engaging in user centred design work is complete, following a review of best practice and advice about gender inclusive design methods being utilised in other contexts. A report has been produced, with feedback from the advisory group, which has now been shared with practitioners working in the field of public service design.

There is now ongoing programme of work to embed outcomes/guidance in the Scottish Approach to Service Design (SAtSD) guidance, and to share examples of good practice with the design community across the public sector. This includes a broad range of public sector bodies, including those in Local Government, the NHS and third sector.

The aim of the updated SAtSD guidance is to provide a set of tools and methods for design practitioners to drive consistency and standardise how we approach design. This includes information and methods to help organisations designing public services understand and mitigate the unintended consequences of gender-specific bias.

This material is currently being used by design practitioners and is due to be published in early 2021, having been delayed by Covid-19.

Additionally, gender sensitive design considerations have been incorporated into the minimum evidence framework for the refreshed Digital Scotland Service Standard, a set of criteria that central government organisations must meet when delivering digital services.

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