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.

Creating Conditions

Under the third pillar 'Creating Conditions' the NACWG makes three recommendations:

3.1 The Scottish Government, Local Government and Public Bodies should build on existing work already underway (the Scottish Approach to Service Design) to create a genuine effort in co-production of policy-making with evidence of lived experience at its heart.

3.2 Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission consider producing a set of scrutiny principles to support this methodology/approach for public bodies, similar to their recent "Principles for Community Empowerment", (linked to the Policy-makers National Standards).

3.3 Adequate resourcing to enable the collection and analysis of robust intersectional data.

Co-production of Policy-making with Lived Experience at its Heart

The NACWG's first recommendation under the theme of 'Creating Conditions' calls for the Scottish Government, Local Government and Public Bodies "to create a genuine effort in co-production of policy making with evidence of lived experience at its heart". The NACWG recommends that any methodology adopted be informed by a forum of independent equality experts, feminists, third sector representatives and those with an understanding of participatory methods, and be sufficiently resourced and supported by robust evaluation.

The Scottish Government accepts this recommendation. This is reflected in the Government's Programme for Scotland 2020-21 which includes a commitment to take steps to ensure that the voices of those impacted shape our approach and policies.

Putting Lived Experience at the Heart of Policy-Making

Other stakeholders have also urged greater inclusion of people with lived-experience in policy-making and this has been a key emerging theme from the Social Renewal Advisory Board (SRAB) and supporting Circles. The SRAB has consulted with:

  • The Poverty Commission Groups in Edinburgh, Glasgow, North Ayrshire and Dundee.
  • Around 100 organisations and community groups, who had the opportunity to share their ideas and evidence, based on their experiences of responding to the pandemic, and their engagement with people with lived experience of poverty and inequality through the open 'Call for Ideas' which ran throughout October.
  • Local Authorities across Scotland, who took part in Community Listening Events where we heard about the response to the pandemic, how it affected communities and what a good life looks like for people post-pandemic.
  • Equalities stakeholders, who have worked with the SRAB, to undertake deep-dives with those groups we know have been most impacted by the pandemic – women, older people, ethnic minorities, young people and disabled people.

All of these will feed into the final report of the Board.

There is also a significant overlap between the NACWG's 2019 recommendation and our ambition for Open Government and greater transparency and involvement of citizens and civil society in policy making and delivery.

A Participation Framework is currently being developed as part of our membership of the Open Government Partnership[14], as a tool to support and promote good practice in participation and engagement across Government. The Framework is designed to make clear the benefits of involving the public and relevant stakeholders early in any process, and equip staff with the skills to identify the most effective ways to carry out their engagement. A strategy is currently being developed to support the roll out of the Framework across the organisation, working in partnership with existing standards such as the Policy Profession and the Scottish Approach to Service Design."

We propose to develop an approach that is based on learning from previous and current Scottish Government lived experience models, as well as models utilised successfully in the UK and internationally. We will work closely with key stakeholders in this area.

Strategic Approach to Engagement with Equality and Human Rights Organisations

In addition to activity to strengthen the inclusion of people with lived experience in policy-making we also propose to take steps to develop a more strategic approach to engagement between policy-makers and equality and human rights organisations.

During our response to COVID-19, some organisations told us that they are not always involved early enough in the policy-making process to adequately influence and shape government policy. They feel that this has resulted in equality and human rights considerations not being sufficiently embedded in policies and decisions from the outset. The Scottish Government wants to address this.

We will therefore give further consideration to how we can support greater engagement between equality and human rights organisations and policy-makers across the Scottish Government to ensure that they are confident in knowing when and how to engage with equality and human rights experts to support greater embedding equality and human rights within policy and practice.

Scrutiny Principles

The NACWG's second recommendation under the pillar 'Creating Conditions' is directed at Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission, who are asked to "consider producing a set of scrutiny principles to support this methodology/approach for public bodies, similar to their recent "Principles for Community Empowerment", (linked to the Policy-makers national standards)".

While recognising that this recommendation is for Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission to consider and respond to, we are supportive in principle.

Intersectional Data

The NACWG's final recommendation relates to data. It says, "To enable the participation and co-production of all women and girls, we need to know more about where they are and what they are experiencing. In particular, we need to know more about the impact of policies on women and girls who experience multiple discriminations. As such, we recommend adequate resourcing to enable the collection and analysis of intersectional data to allow policy-makers and influencers to have access to more robust information leading to more effective policy-making."

The Scottish Government accepts this recommendation. Within the Government's Programme for Scotland 2020-21, we have committed to developing a comprehensive approach to improving data collation and analysis to support our mainstreaming strategy.

Our work will build on existing activity, including:

  • The work of the Sex and Gender in Data group, which was established by the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People in June 2019. The group is comprised of professionals from across statistical services and led by Scotland's Chief Statistician. Its aim is to provide a clear statement about the collection and use of data about a person's sex and gender from the Chief Statistician of Scotland to Scottish Ministers. The work was paused temporarily in order to support our response to COVID-19. The draft guidance which will be consulted on, will recommend that data should be disaggregated by males and females to highlight if there are inequalities between men and women generally which need to be tackled, and where privacy allows (i.e. If the data is large enough), it should be broken down across a number of demographic characteristics - an intersectional analysis - to give an insight into how a combination of socio-demographic characteristics might create discrimination.
  • Innovative work on a Scottish specific Gender Index is to be published in December 2020. This new Index has been designed to set a baseline and monitor the change of the agreed set of indicators. These indicators were developed over the course of a two year period by a Scottish Government-led working group with prominent women's organisations and academics. The index will be focussed on gender but under each domain intersectional data will be included where it is currently available. The index has been supported by funding from the Scottish Government to expand the Office of National Statistics population survey to include collection of time-use data for Scotland and to develop other data on how resources are controlled within a household and on attitudes to violence against women and girls. The index will develop over time as data sources emerge and new indicators become possible.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of equality data for understanding the disproportionate effects of the virus on different groups, including children and young people, men and women, people from minority ethnic communities and older people, as well as people experiencing socio-economic disadvantage. It has also highlighted the need to improve the availability, consistency and quality of such data to ensure that all decisions are evidence-based.

Some equality stakeholders, including the NACWG have highlighted issues in relation to data gaps and the lack of analysis of intersectional data. We are aware of a range of data gaps and are already working with a number of public agencies to deliver appropriate responses. For example, in response to the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on minority ethnic communities the Scottish Government established an Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity and has recently established a working group to improve data and evidence around race across the justice system.

The Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity has recently published its recommendations to the Scottish Government. There are a number of recommendations regarding improving data and which note the importance of participation, that 'minority ethnic people and communities must be at the heart of any initiatives to improve ethnicity recording.'[15] This will be considered alongside our response to the NACWG recommendation 3.1 on participative policy making, as part of our new mainstreaming strategy.

Collection of Equality Data by Scottish Public Sector Bodies Research Project

The Scottish Government has commissioned research to improve our understanding of the collection and use of equality data and data on socio-economic disadvantage by Scottish public sector bodies. The aim of the research is to find out:

  • What equality data, i.e. relating to protected characteristics and, sometimes, other characteristics which have a bearing on equality such as having lived experience of the care system or being a carer, is collected by public sector bodies
  • How that data is collected and stored
  • Why the data is collected and whether the purpose for collection is being fulfilled, and
  • Barriers to collecting and/or using equality data

The research is being carried out with a sample of 30-35 public sector organisations and departments between October and December 2020, and covers all nine protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010 and socio-economic disadvantage. Following completion of the research, the information gathered will be analysed and a report of the findings will be prepared for the Scottish Government and the Scottish Government website in February 2021.



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