Tue 8 Mar, 2016

For International Women's Day, Kirsten Robb, MSP Candidate for Central Scotland shares her thoughts on why Scotland still has a long way to go on gender equality.

From a woman's and a personal perspective as someone working part-time, caring for children and being involved in politics, Scotland still has a long way to go on gender equality. But the opportunities for progress in the next Parliamentary term are huge and the prize of equality for women is indeed progress for all, as the International Women's Day strapline goes.

Barriers to employment appear to be rising not falling, with an estimated 85% of welfare cuts falling on women, entrenching poverty and limiting opportunities further as a result. The costs of childcare for under threes sits around £45 a day and if you don't have grandparents able to help out, taking up any work, never mind part time, is very difficult. And when we do get a job, discrimination in the labour market is significant, with the gender pay gap for part time work, where many women find themselves in order to balance caring duties, recently increasing to 33%.

There are clear structural changes that can be made to address gender equality so that the next five years can see a leap forward in progress.

There are clear structural changes that can be made to address gender equality so that the next five years can see a leap forward in progress. That means putting gender at the heart of all policy making, not just looking at 'womens policies', a perspective the Scottish Greens already have with equality being one of our core principles. From education to employment to childcare to name a few there are opportunities across all sectors to improve. Expanding affordable, flexible childcare would not only create jobs but mean that more women can get work and consider a wider range of work. The hard fought for progress on equal pay in the public sector must now be extended to the private sector with all employers becoming more flexible to support all their employees, including women, balance their non-work responsibilities with the working day. Taking practical steps to encourage more women into non traditional sectors like engineering, construction and science and into managerial roles will start to change the wider culture around women in the workplace.

These leaps forward in equality won't happen on their own – we need to elect more women into politics to do it. Structural changes like the Scottish Greens gender balancing process, can result in more women candidates. Coupled with encouragement, support and mentoring from men and women in the Party and practical things like a participation fund to help with caring costs, we can build a new political culture, raising up the diversity of voices our political culture and our country so desperately needs. We will all be better off for bold progress on gender equality in the coming parliament.

Get involved

More like this

No similar content