All seven recommendations in a report on policy coherence and gender equality in Scotland are being accepted by the Scottish Government.
The report, published last week by the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women & Girls (NACWG), recommends establishing national standards for the creation of new policies to ensure Scotland is driving societal change.
It finds that while policies such as the sex discrimination and equal pay legislation have protected women and girls from discrimination in employment, and in access to goods, facilities, and services, for decades, these laws only provide a remedy when things have gone wrong, rather than stopping gender inequality happening in the first place. The NACWG also found "significant frustration" with inconsistent engagement and participation processes around policymaking, and how to ensure evidence from communities is given equal weight alongside academic research.
Government and other public bodies should build on work already underway "to create a genuine effort in co-production of policymaking with evidence of lived experience at its heart", NACWG states. But the business community also should use this work to ingrain a gender equal approach in policymaking, to achieve a "whole sector" approach to gender equality and culture change, and tackle deep-rooted issues such as occupational segregation.
Further recommendations include the creation of a standalone Equalities Directorate along with the establishment of "centres of expertise" in all Scottish Government directorates; and that Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission consider producing a set of scrutiny principles to support the "people powered" policymaking approach for public bodies, similar to their recent "Principles for Community Empowerment".
NACWG chair, Louise Macdonald commented: "Women are not niche; we are half the world. If a system – or any part of it – is gender-blind, then it is a bad system. We must stop seeing gender and intersectionality as a 'complicating factor' in policymaking. It is a democratic responsibility to include women who are at the sharpest end of policymaking. Doing so is not just good for women and girls, it’s good for everyone in society."
In response First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "As First Minister, I want to ensure that Scotland leads the way, that the generations of women and girls that come after me grow up with equal opportunities in a truly equal society.
"I have observed a growing appetite from across the Scottish Government and the wider public and private sectors to ensure that equality is fully considered and reflected in our respective policies.
"I believe that the bold, ambitious and thought-provoking recommendations of the National Advisory Council on Women & Girls will help us to do that."