March 2022 - Policy Round Up
Each month we share a summary of the policy work Engender has been doing . You can find all of our latest briefings and publications here, or in the links below.
Misogyny Working Group report released
Misogyny constrains every aspect of women’s lives – from the decisions about what time or where we feel comfortable to go for walk in our own neighbourhoods, to the subjects we take at school because of peer pressure, teasing or worse if we break with gendered conventions. Women in Scotland need a wholesale culture shift towards a society which values equality and where misogyny is no longer acceptable. As you'll know, for a number of years Engender has been calling for a standalone criminal offence based on misogyny; using the law as one piece of the puzzle to making women safer in Scotland. This week saw the launch of the final report from the Misogyny Working Group chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy, which recommends the creation of a Misogyny and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, creating:
- a new statutory aggravation of misogyny;
- an offence of stirring up hatred against women and girls;
- an offence of public misogynistic harassment;
- and an offence of issuing threats of, or invoking, rape or sexual assault or disfigurement of women and girls, online and offline.
Engender has been represented on this group, first by Emma Ritch, and then for the past year by our Policy and Parliamentary Manager Eilidh Dickson, and we are urging the Scottish Government to accept the recommendations.
What do women need from a Scottish Carer's Assistance?
The Scottish Government are consulting with people in Scotland about a Scottish Carer’s Assistance. A Carer’s Assistance will replace Carer’s Allowance, but it could also do so much more to value and recognise the work done by unpaid carers in Scotland.
Engender are holding two online events with women who have or who have previously had unpaid care responsibilities. This will be a chance to hear from the Scottish Government about their plans and, more importantly, to raise the issues you care about and share your views on how Carer’s Assistance could be designed to centre women’s equality. These events are for women only (inclusive of trans women). Participants will receive vouchers worth £30 for their participation, and we can also contribute to care costs, so please get in contact to discuss this. Live transcription will be provided.
To register your place, let us know about access needs, or find out more, please contact Catriona at Catriona.Kirkpatrick@Engender.org.uk. There is another opportunity to feed in your views on the 5th April at 6pm if that is a better time for you, and we will also be providing other ways to contribute to the consultation.
Data and the local elections
Not that we ever need an excuse to talk about data, but the local elections and the woeful representation of women in our councils mean it's more important than ever. Between now and polling day, we will be publishing a series of blogs from the Equal Representation Coalition. They’ll be taking a look at the state of equality in our politics at the moment, discussing their work in tackle barriers to participation, and will be exploring the crucial role that accurate data plays in achieving equal representation in our councils and parliaments and why we need more of it.
In our first blog of the series, our Equal Representation Development Officer Jessie Duncan kicks off with an introduction to some of the key issues and why gathering data is vital to achieving equal representation. Read the blog here. In it you'll see that it's vitally important that candidates fill our the monitoring forms they have been sent, so if you know anyone standing for election or if any candidates chap on your door, please encourage them to fill it out!
Scottish Government announces Child Poverty Delivery Plan
Yesterday the Scottish Government published their new Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, announcing a £5 increase to the Scottish Child Payment, a 6% uprating of Scottish social security payments and plans to mitigate the benefit cap. Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice Shona Robison said a focus on long-term parental employment opportunities, strengthened social security and support to reduce household costs are at the heart of the new four year delivery plan, and you can see the full plan online here.
Women’s poverty is closely interlinked with child poverty, and we welcome the Scottish Government’s recognition of this within the plan, alongside these measures in response to the current cost of living crisis. However, these efforts will not completely mitigate the full impact of the crisis and the very real risk of rising child poverty. Women are more likely to go without basic necessities so that others in the family have them. We are deeply concerned for women’s access to paid work opportunities, dignified income and health and wellbeing, especially in the context of the continued impact of Covid-19 for women’s equality.
We're calling on the UK Government to act now and work with the Scottish Government to ensure the social security system ensures women’s safety, equality and dignity.
UK Policy round up
There have been some developments at a UK policy level that we thought you would be interested in. First up, some good news for women’s reproductive rights, as MPs have voted to make at-home early medical abortions permanent in England. Thanks to all of you who took action to contact your MPs about this, and congratulations to BPAS, Doctors for Choice, and all of the other groups organising to make this happen.
Second, in not-so-good news, you may have seen that, after various u-turns (almost a slalom, at this point) the UK Government has announced that they will be excluding trans people from their ban on conversion therapy. Here in Scotland, it is still expected that a comprehensive ban on conversion therapy, which has cross party support, will go ahead. You can write to your MP about this issue via Stonewall.
Finally, we’ve been pleased to host on the blog this week a guest post from Dr Rebecca Mason who uses the upcoming changes to divorce law in England and Wales to reflect on the complex history of divorce law in Scotland
These extracts are all taken from Friday Feminist Five, our weekly round up for Engender members with news, events, and interesting things to read and watch. Want to receive it? Become a member here.
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