The Scottish Government's commitment to develop a strategy to mainstream equality and human rights
In September 2020, the Scottish Government published its annual Programme for Government 'Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland'. It includes a commitment to "develop an equality and human rights 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".
The Equality and Human Rights Division, which is part of the new Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights Directorate, will lead on the development of the mainstreaming strategy, working closely with other parts of the Scottish Government and with stakeholders. The strategy will be the principle vehicle for delivering the NACWG's recommendations.
But it will go further in two respects. It will seek to strengthen the mainstreaming of equality and also human rights in Scottish Government policy-making as a single joint endeavour, and by extending its reach across those characteristics, defined as "protected characteristics" by the Equality Act 2010. It is vital in this that we recognise the nuances and barriers that may uniquely manifest themselves and be experienced by someone with a protected characteristic, including sex. Importantly for this work, we recognise that women and girls as well as experiencing gender inequality can also experience inequality linked to their age, disability, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy/maternity status or other characteristics. However, realising gender equality and the rights of women and girls will be a core objective of our overarching approach – after all, women and girls form a majority of the population and are not a minority group. That is what the NACWG expects and that is what we will seek to achieve.
We are putting in place additional dedicated staff resource to develop the strategy, with the initial appointment of a senior strategic lead within the Equality and Human Rights Division in December. Now this is in place, we will lay the ground for our work going forward which will include consideration of resources required to drive the step change we want to see. This means:
- Creating a compelling vision for change and, building on the NACWG's thinking, developing our conceptual approach as to how Government and the wider public sector embed equality and human rights across policy and practice which will include reviewing how we carry out impact assessment and build expertise at different levels within organisations,.
- Engaging with key internal and external interests, including the NACWG and other equality and human rights organisations, institutions and forums to shape the scope of the strategy, its objectives and accountability mechanisms
- Developing proposals to strengthen our use of and collection of data around equality, and proposals to better harness the lived experience of communities and the expertise of organisations who serve them
- Aligning with key equality and human rights objectives:
- Our commitment to review the operation of the Scottish Specific Duties in delivering the Public Sector Equality Duty;
- Our existing improvement and outreach work in both equality and human rights;
- The findings and recommendations of the Social Renewal Advisory Board which are expected in late January 2021;
- The NACWG's 2020 report and recommendations on the topic of "Exploring an Intersectional Gender Architecture" which will be published in January 2021;
- The work of the Taskforce on Human Rights Leadership which is due to report findings in March 2021 and which is considering the merits of incorporating international human rights treaties.
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