Foreword: Minister for Older People and Equalities
Too often women's voices are undervalued. I welcome the NACWG's 2019 report and recommendations and its aim to elevate women's voices and make sure that our policies are developed from a recognition and understanding of women's lived experience.
The Scottish Government has sought to put lived experience at the heart of policy making through initiatives such as the lived experience panels in the development of social security policy and the citizens' assemblies to tackle fundamental questions such as 'what kind of country are we trying to build?' and address challenging topics such as Brexit and the impact of the pandemic.
The First Minister established the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls to drive forward gender equality and create a mechanism through which women and girls are empowered to challenge government and develop recommendations for policies that will improve their lives.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have worked with equality and human rights stakeholders to identify emerging issues and provide the support that people need in this difficult and uncertain time. We provided a £350 million of emergency funding to a wide range of organisations to allow them to keep providing vital services and support to communities across Scotland. We have also provided an additional strategic investment of £5.91 million to promote equality, tackle social isolation and loneliness and promote digital inclusion through the winter package of support announced at the end of November.
Despite these efforts, issues with the completeness of intersectional data and gaps in evidence about marginalised communities have become more apparent and may hamper efforts to design the best support for some communities, including those who are already furthest from equal opportunities.
The National Advisory Council on Women and Girls has been quick to realise this issue and has made recommendations that challenge us to go further to ensure that all policies are built on intersectional data and lived experience. We are already taking steps to do this including a Scottish Government audit of equality data gaps in public bodies, and the development of a renewed mainstreaming strategy which is underpinned by a comprehensive approach to improving data collation and analysis, and will ensure that the voices of those impacted shape our approach and policies.
This response sets out how we will continue to work towards implementing the ambition of these recommendations. I believe that it makes clear that the Scottish Government has heard the NACWG and is acting. I hope that it empowers more women and girls to speak up, get involved and know that their expertise and voices are valuable.
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