Action on gender equality for our party

Equality matters. It matters in our policy-making, it matters in our pursuit to be the next Scottish Government and it matters in how we act internally as a party. 

It is right that we acknowledge that this is an all-male leadership election. We are coming up with real ideas on how we lead by example on women's representation - but gender equality is not obtained through sticking-plaster remedies and won't be obtained through any single silver bullet: it requires real thought and structural change at every level of our party. 

That is why I am making a commitment today - on the day of Labour's women's conference - on gender equality that will have an impact at every level of our party.

Over 20 years ago, we led the way on women's representation by introducing all-women shortlists. It took the SNP until 2016 to catch up with us. We should be unapologetic in our continued pursuit of all women shortlists and I make a commitment to back this measure and engage with CLPs to overcome the inaccurate misconceptions that all too often follow women candidates selected through AWS.

We will have 50% women candidates in council, Scottish Parliament and general elections - Kezia Dugdale led the way with this and it is the duty of the next Scottish Labour leader to ensure this legacy endures.

We will invest in a diverse talent pool of candidates. I commit to investing in an annual training academy focused on developing a diverse range of candidates. This training and support network will be aimed at women, LGBT members, the BAME communities and disabled members to ensure we are opening our doors to talented individuals, and that our candidates are as diverse as the electorate. It is not good enough that we suddenly reach out for candidates when an election is coming up: I commit to developing and supporting future candidates year on year, so there is no shortage of diverse talent whether there is a national election or a local by-election.  This training academy will also develop activists and ensure our campaigners are as diverse as those they are knocking on the doors of. 

We will take social media sexism with the utmost seriousness. Women face disgraceful abuse online. The online abuse of BAME women such as Diane Abbott is shameful.  We will take a zero tolerance approach to any members being abusive and work with the UK Labour Party to push social media platforms to be more proactive in identifying and closing abusive online accounts. 

We will ensure that more policy thinkers in Scottish Labour and with a Scottish Labour Government, more special advisers, are women. It doesn't just matter who is giving the speeches on the front line, it matters who is doing the thinking and advising behind them. That is why I am making a commitment to hire more women in Scottish Labour's staff team, this will start by ensuring that all future vacancies have at least 50% women shortlisted for interview. 

These commitments are the start of a change and I commit to reporting on progress of Scottish Labour's pursuit of gender equality to the Scottish Executive Committee and making our efforts public. That way, we can ensure we are held to account by those who need this change the most. 

Pursuing equality is in the DNA of the Labour movement. As someone who has backed gender equality efforts throughout my life, whether in our trade unions campaigning for and winning equal pay or supporting campaigning organisations like WASPI where I am the Cross Party joint convenor in Parliament, or voting for positive action measures for women in the Scottish Labour Party, I commit to being a champion of gender equality every day and in every decision. 

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Promoted by Danielle Rowley on behalf of Richard Leonard, both at 180 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 2UE