Calls for Scottish Government to advocate for governance over equality legislation

The First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls calls for change in Scotland’s decision-making architecture to deliver gender justice for all. 

The Scottish Government is being urged to advocate for the full devolution of equality legislation and policymaking to the Scottish Parliament in order to progress the necessary change to create a gender equal Scotland.

In its third report, published today (26 January 2021), the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) has outlined the need for devolution through existing inter-governmental mechanisms to radically progress gender equality. It is one of five recommendations made following the NACWG’s review of the gender policy and decision-making architecture in Scotland, with a specific lens on intersectionality.

An intersectional approach acknowledges the interconnection of social identities such as gender, race and sexuality and works to dismantle the multiple and overlapping discriminations these can impose on women and girls.

The NACWG’s 2020 Report and Recommendations covers three themes – leadership, accountability and creating conditions for change – exploring how Scotland’s gender architecture can become fit for purpose. Evaluating information on international good practice, as well as listening to women’s experiences of living and working in Scotland, has helped The NACWG produce an ambitious set of recommendations for change as the Advisory Council approaches the end of its initial three year strategy.

Other recommendations included within the 2020 Report and Recommendations reflect The NACWG’s aim to create an intersectional gender architecture, including:

  • The integration of Gender Budget Analysis into the Scottish Budget process
  • The establishment of an Equality Focussed Review Body in the Scottish Parliament
  • The introduction of additional requirements for listed Public Bodies to advance equality between protected groups
  • The appointment of a Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Commissioner tasked specifically with scrutiny of Women’s Rights

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to make a statement in response to the 2020 Report and Recommendations tomorrow (27 January) at The NACWG’s virtual Circle meeting.

Having chaired the NACWG since its inception in 2017, co-chair Louise Macdonald OBE says: “By speaking to communities, activists, academics, leaders of public services, and women and girls in Scotland, we have heard that the existing gender architecture – our institutions, laws and systems of decision making and accountability - is not working for them equitably. Decisions about how to allocate scarce public resources are still too often made as if the default human being is a white, non-disabled, straight man, rather than recognising the diversity and lived experience of Scotland’s citizens.

“Gender inequality is complex and harmful. It affects everyone - not just women and girls. That’s why we’ve proposed these systemic changes, to help pave the way for intersectional gender equality for all in Scotland, especially those who are too often ignored or forgotten within the current system.”

These recommendations build on those made by The NACWG in its 2018 and 2019 reports - all of which have been accepted for progression by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Louise adds: “As we come to the end of our initial three year strategy, I want to send our profound thanks to our Circle members once again for all their support and engagement to date. This insight and feedback has helped drive The NACWG strategy forward at a critical time for gender equality.”

To read The NACWG’s 2020 Report and Recommendations in full, visit: