Together we are working to break down barriers and advance equality for all

This week, Scotland was named the best country in the UK for gender equality in the workplace, but on International Women’s Day it’s important that we reflect on the fact that the journey to true equality is not over.

The SNP will continue to stand up for gender equality at every turn – working to end austerity, for equal pay, and to end the barriers that still block the aspirations of too many women in Scotland and across the UK.

Today we have published our Gender Pay Gap Action Plan, the first for Scotland and for any UK administration. This plan will help the Scottish Government meet its commitment of reducing the gender pay gap by 2021. There are over 50 actions, including:

  • Investing an extra £5 million over the next three years to support around 2,000 women to return to work after career breaks.
  • Improving workplace practices, including support for women during menopause and for victims of domestic abuse, through the expansion of the Workplace Equality Fund.
  • Delivering a new careers strategy to provide advice and accessible guidance which will help to challenge stereotypes.
  • Refreshing the gender and diversity element of the Scottish Business Pledge.

The Scottish Government will also show leadership as an employer by undertaking a Scottish Government Equal Pay Audit, and researching the ways businesses can reduce their gender pay gaps.

To increase the number of women in leadership roles across the wider public sector, we have passed the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill. The new law – the first of its kind in the UK – will ensure that 50 per cent of non-executive members on public boards in Scotland are women.

We are taking action to tackle violence against women and girls, in line with Scotland’s Equally Safe strategy. We are investing almost £18 million to support victims of crime through a range of front line specialist services and to tackle violence against women and girls.

We are investing £100,000 in a new mentoring scheme to help women in business across Scotland. The Scottish Chamber of Commerce will partner with the Scottish Association of Business Women to deliver the ‘Future Female Business Leaders’ programme.

We have established a working group to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace. And at Westminster will fight to protect the rights of pregnant women and new mothers afforded under EU laws.

We are taking decisive action to ensure women’s equality in the workplace. Here are some of thing things we are doing to make Scotland a fairer, more equal society.

We are working to increase participation of women and girls in sport. We have established the Women and Girls in Sport Advisory Board to help us understand what more we can do to increase women and girls’ participation in sport and physical activity.

Last year, we announced £300,000 for projects to help women and girls take part in sport or physical activity and to enable the Scotland’s Women’s National Team to train full-time ahead of the FIFA 2019 World Cup, the SNP Scottish Government are providing additional funding.

We have become the first country in the world to make free sanitary products available in all schools, colleges and universities. And an extra £4 million funding will be provided by the Scottish Government to increase the number of places where sanitary products are available.

We are providing more than £50 million to improve mental health services for expectant and new mothers. One in five women are affected by mental health problems during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth, and this funding will identify mental health problems quickly so they can be treated promptly, with dignity and respect.

We fully support the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign in their efforts to secure fairness for women affected by the acceleration in the retirement age. The SNP will continue to fight for the UK Government to take responsibility, deliver the pension that women born in the 1950s deserve and end this inequality at source.