Following on from policy announcements yesterday to tackle period poverty, Scottish Labour leadership contender Richard Leonard, outlines further plans to deal with gender inequality.
These new measures include, addressing the gender gap in subject choices in schools/apprenticeships, raising the carers allowance and prioritising childcare as an economic policy.
On introducing these pledges, Richard Leonard said,
"Our party should be proud of what we have achieved on gender equality. It is Labour that created gender balance mechanisms, increased maternity pay and introduced the Equalities Act - but the fight is far from over, which is why I am fully committed to Scottish Women's Voice five key goals.
"Women understand all too well power imbalances, whether it's in the home, at work, or, in society. Therefore, I am not making a tokenistic offer that fails to address the powerlessness that many women face in their daily lives. The pursuit of equal pay and a Living Wage have been central to my work in the labour movement.
"It is vital that policy makers understand the economy and society from women's perspectives; consequently, having women candidates in at least half of the winnable seats is essential. This is why within the Labour Party, I was arguing for AWS over twenty years ago, at a time when the very idea was still deemed contentious and I have argued the benefits of having our Holyrood lists topped by women.
"I believe that if only the Scottish Parliament had 50:50 since its opening many issues would have been addressed by now as economic priorities, such as childcare and unpaid carers. My good friend, Monica Lennon, is successfully pushing the Scottish Government on period poverty. Diversity enriches our priorities and policy making. This is why I have made a commitment to invest in a talent academy which will focus on developing future candidates and activists who are women, BAME, LGBTQ+ and/or disabled not just when there is an election, but all year round.
"The trade union movement has a history of elevating the voice of women workers, but women remain under-represented and underpaid. Occupational gender segregation is at the heart of gender inequality. High levels of segregation are a significant factor in the discrepancy between the wages of women and men, the majority of the care, cleaning or administration workforce are women and they are undervalued and underpaid. This must change. Today, in Scotland women make up over two thirds of part-time workers, yet the pay gap in part time work for women is a staggering 32% compared to men’s full hourly time earnings. We must strive to do more, both within the practices of our Party and through our policy making to create a more equal Scotland.
"So, I pledge to:
- Implement at least 50:50 in all marginal parliamentary and council selections
- Deliver an annual Scottish Labour women’s conference with policy making powers
- Prioritise childcare as an economic policy as it needs wholesale transformation to be flexible, affordable and properly reward workers
- Properly value the contribution made by unpaid carers, the pledge to raise Carers’ Allowance to the Jobseeker’s Allowance rate is a step forward but more needs to be done.
- End the scourge of period poverty - supporting calls to end the huge markup on vending machines and investigating all opportunities to address the stigma and inequalities that still persist in relation to menstruation.
- Work to address the gender gap in subject choices at school and beyond by creating a Gender Equality Training Standard for current and new teachers, this tool will be developed by those passionate educators already leading on this and will support teachers to eliminate gender bias in the classroom, allowing boys and girls to have the widest possible ambitions.
- Work to rebalance the gender gaps through targeted use of gender quotas in modern apprenticeships where there is a high level of occupational segregation such as social care and construction.
- Push for the current bill on gender equality on public boards to have a real impact on women’s representation by including mandatory public reporting and non-compliance sanctions."