Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, women’s health was being woefully under-served in Scotland.

Historic lack of funding for, or professional and research focus on, health issues that affect women means that these issues are ignored in health services or awareness-raising initiatives.

Disabled women, migrant and refugee women, and trans women are particularly impacted by health services which are not gender-sensitive and there is a shocking lack of data.

General Election 2024?– What’s in it for women??

General Election 2024?– What’s in it for women??

Blog – Jun 10, 2024: We’re calling on candidates to commit to taking action on four key areas for women if elected – and we need your help. 

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Modernising Scotland's abortion law

Modernising Scotland's abortion law

Blog – May 22, 2024: Today we launch our new report, ‘Outdated, harmful and never in the public interest - The urgent need to modernise Scotland's abortion law and prevent prosecutions.’  

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Outdated, Harmful, and Never in the Public Interest: The urgent need to modernise Scotland's abortion law and prevent prosecutions

May 21, 2024: Reform of abortion law in Scotland is long overdue. The legal framework which currently governs when an abortion is permitted is made up of a patchwork of laws that stem from as far back as the 17th century. The law is therefore out of step with the experiences of women in modern Scotland for whom abortion is routine healthcare, accessed by around one in three in their lifetimes. The report is informed by input from legal experts and medical professionals, detailing the wide ranging support that exists for decriminalisation. It concludes with clear recommendations for Scottish Government and other key decisionmakers on what the next steps towards a modernised regulatory framework should be.

Date of publication: May 2024.

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Engender submission of evidence to the Scottish Parliament Health, Social Care and Sport Committee call for evidence on the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill

Jan 10, 2024: Engender has worked on access to abortion care since 2016 and the devolution of this policy area to the Scottish Parliament. During that time, we have identified issues relating to abortion law, access and care that serve to undermine women’s experiences of abortion and impede the full realisation of women’s human rights in Scotland. As such, we recognise the increasing need for this legislation and are strong in our overall support for the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill. We want to ensure that the Bill provides women and healthcare workers with the strongest possible protections, whilst remaining human rights compliant.

Date of publication: January 2024.

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Making the case for decriminalising abortion

Making the case for decriminalising abortion

Blog – Oct 24, 2023: Regulation of abortion care in Scotland is in urgent need of modernisation, with the current framework acting as a drag on services and as a barrier to timely access.

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New report reveals devastating impact of Covid-19 on access to pregnancy and maternity services 

New report reveals devastating impact of Covid-19 on access to pregnancy and maternity services 

Blog – Sep 26, 2023: Engender and the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) have published a new report spotlighting women’s experiences of pregnancy and maternity services during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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“Trauma, abandonment and isolation”: Experiences of pregnancy and maternity services in Scotland during Covid-19

Sep 26, 2023: This report sets out experiences of accessing pregnancy and maternity services in Scotland at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic between March 2020 and November 2022. The purpose of the research is to inform and influence the Covid-19 Inquiry through a series of recommendations. We also highlight preexisting systemic issues that were raised by women.

Date of publication: September 2023.

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Engender briefing on decriminalisation of abortion for the Scottish Parliament Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee

Feb 22, 2023: This is a briefing for MSPs ahead of the Scottish Parliament Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee consideration of a new petition to amend the law to fully decriminalise abortion in Scotland on 22nd February 2023. Women’s reproductive rights include the freedom and ability to decide if and when to have children and the right to high standards of sexual and reproductive health. However, women in Scotland currently have no legal right to end a pregnancy. That decision ultimately sits with doctors, two of whom must authorise a woman’s request for an abortion. We urge the Committee to seek further and fuller evidence regarding decriminalisation of abortion following its initial consideration of this petition.

Date of publication: February 2023.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Finance and Public Administration Committee Debate on the Scottish Budget 2023-24

Jan 26, 2023: This is a briefing for MSPs ahead of the Finance and Public Administration Committee Debate on the Scottish Budget 2023-24. The cost of living crisis is disproportionately affecting women, enabling violence against women and girls and entrenching gender inequality. We continue to be concerned about the lack of attention the Scottish Budget process pays to structural gender inequality, and women’s and men’s differing lived experience.

Date of publication: January 2023.

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GUEST BLOG: Giving birth during the pandemic

GUEST BLOG: Giving birth during the pandemic

Blog – Dec 13, 2022: We've been working with the ALLIANCE and The Health and Social Care Academy to gather information about experiences of pregnancy and maternity services during Covid-19 from women across Scotland. Alongside our work, we're sharing a series of guest blogs reflecting on those experiences. Here, Barbara Flynn shares her experience of giving birth in the summer of 2020.

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Engender response to the Scottish Government consultation on a new Mental Health and Wellbeing strategy

Oct 4, 2022: Women and men experience mental health in vastly different ways. Women and girls are diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders in greater numbers, and experience difference in diagnosis and treatment, and access to health and support services. Our response to the Scottish Government Consultation on Mental Health highlights the structural, and highly gendered, nature of mental health. The onus to achieve positive mental wellbeing should not be put on women and other minoritised and low-income groups. Our response also highlights a number of other issues which must be taken into account to ensure that Scotland’s response to the growing mental health crisis doesn’t further entrench women’s inequality, including good data, improving access to services (including specialist services), funding and procurement, and policy change.

Date of publication: October 2022.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Cost of Living Crisis

Sep 13, 2022: This is a briefing for MSPs on the cost of living crisis ahead of the Scottish Government Emergency Budget Review. The escalating cost of living crisis will result in untold harm in Scotland, particularly for women, other oppressed groups and those living with multiple inequalities including Black and minority ethnic women and disabled women. It will deepen gender inequality at a time when women continue to experience the egregious fallout of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Date of publication: September 2022.

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Engender submission of evidence to the Scottish Parliament Finance and Public Administration Committee call for views on its pre-budget scrutiny 2023-24

Aug 26, 2022: Engender welcomes this opportunity to comment on the Committee’s pre-budget scrutiny and, in particular, its focus on the impact of the cost of living. Current spiralling inflation is highly gendered, and it is imperative that the Committee interrogate the ways in which the Budget cumulatively impacts on women and men as part of a cross-portfolio approach throughout the Scottish Parliament.

Date of publication: August 2022.

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Engender response to the consultation on the Proposed Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill

Aug 12, 2022: Engender wholeheartedly welcomes the proposed Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill and the opportunity to respond to this consultation. Harassment of women seeking healthcare represents an egregious interference with women’s basic human rights. Engender unequivocally supports women’s autonomy over our bodies and our lives; access to abortion is fundamental to women’s rights and gender equality. Access to safe abortion healthcare is essential for the realisation of women’s economic and social rights.

Date of publication: August 2022.

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Engender briefing on women’s health inequalities for Scottish Parliament Health, Social Care and Sport Committee

Jul 8, 2022: Women and girls face significant barriers to good mental and physical health in Scotland. Health issues that disproportionately affect women, or affect women differently to men, have historically lacked funding and professional focus, meaning that women’s health needs are not equally prioritised and understood across health services and more broadly. Intersecting equality issues have a major bearing on health outcomes for women in Scotland, and gender is the most significant factor that interacts with income inequality to compound health problems. For example: highly gendered health outcomes exist within certain minority ethnic communities; the physical and mental health of transgender women is put at risk by lack of knowledge amongst healthcare professionals; disabled women are significantly more likely to have unmet healthcare needs than both non-disabled people and disabled men; and women in the most deprived areas of Scotland experience good health for 25 years less than women in the most affluent parts of the country.

This briefing paper focuses on gendered health inequalities - issues that affect health outcomes for women due to systemic gender inequality.

Date of publication: June 2022.

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Gender inequality in sickness and in health

Gender inequality in sickness and in health

Blog – Jul 8, 2022: Engender recently produced a briefing for the Scottish Parliament's Health, Social Care and Sport Committee about women's health inequalities. This blog focuses on the role that gender plays in women's health inequalities.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: International Women’s Day 2022 - #BreakTheBias

Mar 8, 2022: Engender welcomes this opportunity to mark International Women’s Day 2022 with this briefing and the Parliament’s debate. This year’s theme - #BreakTheBias – aims to highlight conscious and unconscious discrimination against women in all walks of life. Preventing and eradicating violence requires serious action to secure women’s social, economic and cultural equality and the rights of women and girls. UN Women has estimated that the impact of Covid-19 for women’s equality could mean the loss of 25 years’ worth of progress, and Scotland is not immune. Measures to respond to the pandemic have disproportionately affected women’s access to paid work - especially younger women and women of colour - and the volume of care that women provide.

Breaking the structural bias that leaves women poorer, further from power and opportunities and more vulnerable to violence, abuse and harm demands urgent attention and action.

Date of publication: March 2022.

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Engender Submission of Evidence to the Scottish Parliament Social Justice and Social Security Committee Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWAG) and Domestic Violence Thematic Session

Mar 2, 2022: Engender welcomes this opportunity to participate in a thematic discussion on violence against women and girls and domestic abuse and ahead of the meeting have outlined here our current work in this area for the Committee. Engender does not provide violence against women services but works across a number of relevant policy domains.

Date of publication: March 2022.

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Engender joins other orgnisations dismayed at exclusion of equality and rights in Scottish Government’s Covid-19 inquiry

Engender joins other orgnisations dismayed at exclusion of equality and rights in Scottish Government’s Covid-19 inquiry

Blog – Jan 25, 2022: Today, we joined with 26 organisations working for equality and human rights in Scotland to write to John Swinney expressing our “dismay” and “deep concerns” following the publication of the Scottish Government’s Terms of Reference for a public inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Human Rights Day 2021

Dec 9, 2021: Engender warmly welcome this opportunity to mark Human Rights Day 2021 in the Scottish Parliament. Human Rights Day also marks the end of the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women, signalling that violence against women is a human rights violation.

As part of our work on women’s human rights, Engender has advocated for the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), often known as the Women’s Bill of Rights.

Date of publication: December 2021.

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Exploring the impact of Covid-19 on women's equality in Scotland

Exploring the impact of Covid-19 on women's equality in Scotland

Blog – Dec 3, 2021: How has Covid-19 impacted women in Scotland? We’ve been working with Close the Gap and colleagues from across the UK in a project to gather polling data throughout the past year – read more about the findings of this work in this blog.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2021

Nov 24, 2021: Engender welcomes this debate to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2021 and the start of 16 Days of Activism. This is the 30th year of the international campaign recognising the global epidemic of violence against women, with 1 in 3 women worldwide subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, non-partner or both, and the full continuum of violence perpetrated against women, including sexual harassment, violence in digital contexts, harmful practices, and sexual exploitation.

Date of publication: November 2021.

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Engender and Close the Gap Joint briefing on the impact of Covid-19 on young women

Nov 12, 2021: This briefing looks at the impacts of Covid-19 on young women’s employment, financial security, and mental health in Scotland. It uses data from a joint survey on young women developed by Close the Gap, Engender, the UK Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Women’s Equality Network Wales, and Northern Ireland Women’s Budget Group.

This paper analyses survey data gathered from 501 young people aged 18 to 30 in Scotland and a booster sample of 266 Black and minority ethnic (BME) young people. Key findings reinforce evidence, gathered over the course of the pandemic, that young women have been particularly affected by rising financial precarity and anxiety as a result of the ongoing crisis. The findings also align with evidence from previous crises which indicates that economic downturns tend to have particularly detrimental effects on younger workers.

Date of publication: November 2021

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones

Nov 4, 2021: This is a briefing for MSPs ahead of the Member's Business Debate on Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones. Engender calls for a robust strategy to respond to protests as harassment and abuse towards women, including implementation of buffer zones around clinics, as part of the Scottish Government’s stated ambitions on abortion rights and access to forms of quality healthcare predominantly utilised by women.

Date of publication: November 2021.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Improving Support and Ending the Stigma of the Menopause

Nov 2, 2021: This is a briefing for MSPs ahead of the Member's Business Session on Improving Support and Ending the Stigma of the Menopause. Despite recent progress there remains a chronic stigma, imbued with sexism and ageism, and a lack of knowledge and public awareness around the menopause which prevents health professionals and society from adequately supporting menopausal women. There is a need for comprehensive healthcare training and services, while more workplace policies could be a simple action to improve conditions for menopausal women in Scotland.

Date of publication: November 2021.

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Engender Response to the Call for Views on the Aims and Principles of the Scottish COVID-19 Public Inquiry

Oct 8, 2021: Engender welcomes this opportunity to comment on the Aims and Principles paper that will shape Terms of Reference for Scotland’s Inquiry into Covid-19. Over the past eighteen months we have undertaken extensive work on the impact of the pandemic and of public policy responses on different groups of women and on structural gender inequality. We have seen a widely recognised rollback on women’s rights and equality in terms of health, care, financial security, employment, violence against women and housing. Within this, specific issues and even deeper impacts have manifested for Black and minoritised women, young women, disabled women, unpaid carers, mothers, pregnant women, LGBTI women, and women with insecure immigration status, amongst other groups who experience intersecting forms of oppression and discrimination. The extent of these gendered impacts and the long-term implications for women and girls are as yet unknown.

Date of publication: October 2021.

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Engender submission of evidence to the Social Justice and Social Security Committee call for views on its Pre-Budget Scrutiny 2022/23

Oct 7, 2021: Engender is grateful for the opportunity to provide evidence to the Committee in support of its pre-budget scrutiny for 2022 – 2023. Our submission focuses on the transformative potential of gender budgeting in the realisation of women’s equality and the need for gender to be strategically analysed across subject committees including, but not only, the Social Justice and Social Security Committee.

Date of publication: October 2021.

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Engender submission of evidence to the Scottish Parliament Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee call for views on its Pre-Budget Scrutiny 2022/23

Sep 27, 2021: Engender welcomes this opportunity to comment on the Committee’s pre-budget scrutiny. It is imperative that the Committee interrogate the ways in which the Budget cumulatively impacts on women and men as part of a cross-portfolio approach throughout the Scottish Parliament. There is no area of policy whereby women and men do not have different experiences or differential access to power, resources, and safety. Budgets are not neutral, but present an opportunity to re-enforce these inequalities or to account for them according to political and public policy goals.

Date of publication: September 2021.

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Gender Edit of Scotland's Programme for Government 2021-2022

Sep 8, 2021: This gender edit of A Fairer, Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021-22 compiles all references to women, gender and issues with implications for gender equality which appear in the document.
The programme for government sets out the Scottish Government’s legislative and policy priorities for the coming parliamentary year. This year’s programme focuses on the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and recovery, a national mission to eradicate child poverty across Scottish Government priorities and the climate crisis.

Date of publication: September 2021.

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Submission to the Advisory Council: Development of the National Strategy on Economic Transformation August 2021

Aug 24, 2021: This joint submission from Engender and Close the Gap provides evidence to the Advisory Council ahead of the development of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation. The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has resulted in a rapid, and unprecedented shift in the economic landscape in Scotland. One of the implications of this has been to further highlight and exacerbate women’s continued social, economic, labour market and political inequality. It has also underscored the impact of social security changes and cuts to public services to women’s inequality. UN Women estimates that the pandemic risks setting women’s equality back 25 years. There is therefore an urgent need to integrate gender perspectives and women’s needs into response measures and wider economic policymaking, a focus that has been noticeably absent from pandemic-related measures.

This submission outlines some general thoughts on gender and economic policymaking, including a critique of current approaches to economic development and inclusive growth. We then provide detail on specific considerations for the National Strategy, including the gender pay gap, unpaid care and automation.

Date of publication: August 2021

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Free period products, when and where we need them

Free period products, when and where we need them

Blog – Jul 29, 2021: In this blog, Engender's Communications and Engagement Manager, Alys Mumford, talks about our continuing work to ensure access to free period products.

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Telemedical abortion services: joint letter to Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Public Health, Women's Health, and Sport

Telemedical abortion services: joint letter to Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Public Health, Women's Health, and Sport

Blog – Jun 14, 2021: Today Engender and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) have, together with 25 women's organisations, human rights bodies, and healthcare providers, written to the Scottish Government asking them to make telemedical abortion services permanent in Scotland.

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Engender submission to the Scottish Government on equality and socio-economic impacts of EU Exit (‘Brexit’)

May 20, 2021: This is Engender's submission to the Scottish Government on equality and socio-economic impacts of EU Exit (‘Brexit’). This submission looks at economic consequences, protections for migrant women, employment and equality protections, replacement funds, and criminal justice, and offers a series of recommendations covering funding for women's organisations and violence against women services, incorporation of women's rights, devolution of equality law, enhanced gender mainstreaming, and mitigation of No Recourse to Public Funds.

Date of publication: May 2021.

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Covid-19 and Mental Health

Covid-19 and Mental Health

Blog – May 14, 2021: Engender has been working with Close the Gap, and other women's organisations across the UK, to carry out some polling work to see how Covid has impacted on women's lives.

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Engender and Close the Gap Joint Briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on women's wellbeing, mental health and financial security

May 14, 2021: This briefing looks at the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s wellbeing, mental health, and financial security in Scotland by analysing survey data gathered from 509 adults in Scotland and a booster sample of 401 Black and minority ethnic (BME) adults. The survey data reinforces pre-existing evidence that women have been particularly affected by rising financial precarity and anxiety as a result of the ongoing crisis. The data also highlights that young women and disabled women are being particularly impacted by the social, economic and labour market implications of the pandemic. As a result, these findings underscore the importance of a gendered economic recovery.

Date of publication: May 2021.

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Engender UN Economic and Social Council High-level Segment Written Statement Submission 2021

May 6, 2021: Engender has submitted this written statement for the 2021 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) High-Level Segment for non-governmental organisations in consultative status with ECOSOC. This year's priority theme is centred around sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

Date of publication: May 2021.

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Vision for a Feminist Recovery: Engender Manifesto for the Scottish Parliament Election 2021

Apr 2, 2021: This is Engender's Vision for Feminist Recovery manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament Election, including our 8 key asks for a more equal Scotland. Covid-19 pandemic have, and continue to have, significant impacts for women’s wellbeing. Lockdown and an as-yet-unknown scale of economic recession have disrupted women’s support networks, such as childcare, and made their livelihoods more precarious. This crisis will inevitably extend its reach across the next parliament. Reaching our 2030 vision for a gender equal Scotland is not impossible, despite Covid-19. Deliberate and urgent action is required now. We call on Scotland’s political parties to stop women’s equality being set back and support these ambitions to realise a more equal Scotland within this decade.

Date of publication: April 2021.

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Engender and Close the Gap Joint briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on women with childcare responsibilities in Scotland

Mar 17, 2021: This briefing looks at the implications of the COVID-19 crisis on women with childcare responsibilities in Scotland specifically by analysing survey data gathered from 721 parents in Scotland. The survey data reinforces pre-existing evidence that women’s employment has been disproportionately impacted by additional caring responsibilities over the course of the crisis, and women have been particularly affected by rising financial precarity and anxiety as a result of the social and economic consequences of the crisis. The data also highlights that Black and minority ethnic (BME) women and disabled women have been particularly impacted by the social, economic, and labour market implications of the pandemic.

Date of publication: March 2021.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Scottish Government Debate: International Women’s Day 2021: #ChooseToChallenge

Mar 3, 2021: Engender welcomes this opportunity to mark International Women’s Day 2021 with this briefing and the Parliament’s debate, which this year coincides with a year since the introduction of public health restrictions in the wake of Covid-19. This year’s theme ‘#ChooseToChallenge”, urges people to call out and challenge gender bias and inequality. Women’s inequality with men demands structural and targeted responses with the aim of disrupting women’s subordination and exclusion in policy, practice, and everyday life. This means understanding the reality of women’s lives, the specific barriers to equality women face, and how multiple forms of discrimination intersect with one another. There is a need to go further and faster to challenge sexism and inequality, unpaid and invisible labour, gender-based violence and harassment, and the undervaluation of women’s work.

Date of publication: March 2021.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Impact of COVID-19 on Women in the Economy

Feb 10, 2021: This is a briefing for MSPs ahead of the Member's Business Session on the Impact of Covid-19 on Women in the Economy of 11th February. Engender estimates that the impact of lost productivity because of mothers’ additional childcare while schools are closed amounts to a loss £15 million a day in Scotland. There is an urgent need to reassess the approach to gender within recovery and for Scotland to properly understand and respond to the impact of the pandemic on women’s economic and other rights as we enter the next phase of the pandemic and begin to fully focus on recovery.

Date of publication: February 2021.

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Engender response to Mark Griffin MSP’s consultation on a Proposed Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill

Feb 5, 2021: Engender welcomes this opportunity to respond to Mark Griffin MSP’s consultation on Proposals for a Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill. We have kept our comments to four broad themes – the changing nature of workplace risk, the need for and characteristics of a Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council (SEIAC), gender and health, and the additional concern that Covid-19 places on women’s health and the nature of work.

Date of publication: February 2021.

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Engender submission of evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry on Welfare policy in Scotland

Feb 1, 2021: This is Engender's submission of evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry on Welfare Policy in Scotland. The design of the social security and ‘welfare’ system is one of the key drivers of inequality in the UK and it remains a critical lever available to ensure women have access to an adequate standard of living, equal access to choices and opportunities, and safety and security. Women are more likely to rely on social security for all or part of their income than men due to a greater risk of poverty, gendered experiences of the labour market which push them into poorer paid and insecure employment, the impact of men’s violence, and deeply-ingrained norms around the provision of care and childcare.

Date of publication: February 2021.

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Engender Briefing to the Women’s Health Plan: What Do Women Experiencing the Menopause in Scotland Need?

Dec 16, 2020: In 2020, the Women’s Health Plan was established with a remit of raising awareness around women’s health; improving access to healthcare for women across the life course and reducing inequalities in health outcomes for girls and women, including gender-based inequalities both for sex-specific conditions and in women’s general health. Menopause is one of the intitial priorities for this work.
Engender has produced this briefing to provide the Women’s Health Plan with evidence from our survey of nearly 400 women as part of a research project looking at women’s needs during the menopause and exisiting public policy. We also outline our additional analysis of the research findings and make recommendations for further policy development.

Date of publication: December 2020.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Equalities and Human Rights Committee Debate: Valuing the Third Sector

Dec 1, 2020: This is a briefing for MSPs ahead of the Equality and Human Rights Committee debate on Valuing the Third Sector on 1st December 2020.
We welcome the opportunity to share a small glimpse of the impact the women’s sector has had in Scotland ahead of the parliamentary debate initiated by the Equality and Human Rights Committee on Valuing the Third Sector. We also highlight the role of the women’s sector in Scotland in delivering equality and human rights priorities and to reflect on issues raised by the Committee’s report in respect of sustainability and impact during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Date of publication: December 2020.

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Engender Annual Report 2019-20

Nov 17, 2020: This annual report sets out the work that Engender has been doing over 2019-20 to ensure that women's equality remains at the heart of policy-making during the Covid-19 pandemic and to persuade politicians, policymakers, and those with power and influence across Scotland that gender matters. Our small and dedicated staff team have been working locally, nationally, and internationally to make women’s voices heard in the heart of government, across the UK and Europe, and in political and policymaking spaces across Scotland.

Date of publication: November 2020.

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Engender submission of evidence to the Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee inquiry on the role of Scottish Social Security in Covid-19 recovery

Oct 15, 2020: Women are twice as likely to rely on social security for all or part of their income than men due to a greater risk of poverty, gendered experiences of the labour market which push them into poorer paid and insecure employment, the impact of men’s violence and deeply-ingrained norms around the provision of care and childcare.

Engender is acutely aware of the scale of impact the Covid-19 pandemic presents to women and to inequality in Scotland and we do not underestimate the challenges of meeting the various demands this will place on Scottish and UK public services. However, we are strongly
of the view that the principles of Scottish social security require it to build on existing commitments to meet new and expanding needs. While we are concerned about the adequacy of the system as a whole to respond to the huge and complex dangers to women’s equality and risk of poverty, there are specific groups for whom there is evidence of building need and opportunity for policy-makers to react in the more immediate term.

Date of publication: October 2020.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Recognising the Importance of Family Caregivers

Sep 30, 2020: This is an Engender briefing for MSPs ahead of the Scottish Parliament Opposition debate on Recognising the Importance of Family Caregivers on 30th September 2020. In June 2020 Engender published our paper Gender and Unpaid Work, which summarises the evidence on the gendered allocation of unpaid care for older and disabled people as well as childcare, housework, and household management. It describes how the Covid-19 lockdown has affected these patterns and analyses how they must be taken into account in planning for economic and social recovery.

We therefore welcome the timing of this debate in Parliament and the opportunity to highlight how changes to paid and unpaid social care present an opportunity to advance women’s equality, wellbeing and rights.

Date of publication: September 2020.

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Engender submission of evidence to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee call for evidence of the impact of Covid-19 on equalities and human rights as part of its pre-budget scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2021-22

Sep 21, 2020: This is a submission of evidence to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee call for evidence of the impact of Covid-19 on equalities and human rights as part of its pre-budget scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2021-22 We welcome the focus of the Equality and Human Rights Committee this year on the social and economic recoveries from Covid-19 and ensuring that there is sufficient scrutiny of how revenue raising and spending relates to these outcomes within and outwith the Budget process.

Our submission focuses on our concerns about the extent to which women and girls have been considered in the development of economic recovery plans. We need to see additional substantive commitments to realising women’s economic equality or women will be further pushed behind.

Date of publication: September 2020.

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Gender Edit of Scotland's Programme For Government 2020-2021

Sep 2, 2020: This gender edit of The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government compiles all references to women, gender and issues with implications for gender equality which appear in the document.

This year’s Programme for Government comes amid the Scottish Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and ahead of the Scottish Elections in 2021. Considerable focus is given to protecting jobs and adjustments or investments in the health and social care system. The Government announced four new Bills to be introduced and the continuation of Bills already introduced ahead of the dissolution for the election next year.

Date published: September 2020.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: An Implementation Plan for Economic Recovery

Aug 12, 2020: This is an Engender briefing for MSPs ahead of the Scottish Government debate on an Implementation Plan for Economic Recovery on 11th Agust 2020. Over the past six months Engender has sought to highlight the multitude of ways in which Covid-19 and our response to it will impact on women’s lives, rights and equality with men. We are especially cognisant of the mounting evidence around women’s rising economic inequality due to the pandemic and national and devolved response planning.

This parliamentary briefing calls on Scottish Government to go further to ensure that economic recovery also closes the gap between women and men. We urge Scottish Government to scale up its ambition and the necessary action to deliver a meaningful economic (and social) recovery for women that not only responds to the threat of deeper inequality as a result of Covid-19 but actively realises women’s economic rights and revalues women’s work.

Date of publication: August 2020.

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Engender and Close the Gap response to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery report

Jul 24, 2020: The differential impact of Covid-19 on women and men has been well-rehearsed. Engender and Close the Gap have issued multiple briefings making the case for a gendered response to Covid-19, advocating for the use of gender-sensitive sex-disaggregated data in developing policy interventions, and analysing the impact on women’s labour market participation. We also worked with other national women’s organisations to develop nine principles for a gender-sensitive economic recovery. These principles recognise that women’s equality is a precondition of a wellbeing economy, and we published a supporting paper exploring how Covid-19 might be an inflection point in gendering Scotland’s approach to inclusive growth. We submitted all of this information to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery (AGER).

Despite this advocacy, and widespread media coverage of some of the gendered issues around Covid-19’s economic effects, AGER’s report is not gendered. Despite the profoundly gendered nature of the crisis, which has impacted female-dominated sectors and substantially increased women’s unpaid work, the report barely mentions these as concerns. Its analysis does not integrate these gendered issues and nor is there any evidence of them in the recommendations it has produced. Consequently, Scottish Government will need to pay particular attention to taking a gendered approach within its response if it is to avoid redistribution of jobs from women to men being a feature of ‘recovery’. Without mitigation, actions for recovery based on AGER’s report will worsen women’s economic position, and widen income and wealth gaps.

Date of publication: July 2020

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Women & Unpaid Work: the impact of Covid-19 on women's caring roles

Jul 17, 2020: Women’s equality cannot be realised while women still have do so much more childcare, care for older and disabled people, and housework than men. Covid-19 has exposed the extent to which women shoulder the majority of this unpaid work, and are assumed to be available to pick up the slack during a crisis. Doing unpaid work pushes women into poverty, with women four times more likely than men to give up employment because of multiple caring roles. It also stops women studying, doing community work, and even using local services. The ongoing impact on Covid-19 will also hit women hardest, with social care services withdrawn, delays to school reopening, and reductions in services by charities. Yet despite its overwhelming importance to women’s lives, unpaid care work rarely features in legislative or policy discussions.

This report highlights the impact of Covid-19 on women's caring roles, and makes recommendation for how Scottish Government can measure, value, and reduce women's unpaid work.

Date of publication: July 2020

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Engender submission of evidence to the UK Parliament Women and Equalities Committee inquiry on Unequal impact: Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the impact on people with protected characteristics

Jul 10, 2020: Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the UK, Engender has sought to draw attention to the highly gendered impacts of both the virus and steps to mitigate it.

This submission was made to the Women and Equalities Committee at the UK Parliament at the beginning of May, and sets out the broad range of issues that have emerged pertaining to women’s inequality during the first weeks of the UK’s management of Covid-19. Inevitably, this pandemic will remain a serious and evolving issue, with phased recovery and cycled periods of response. The scale of the potential impact for women’s equality is enormous. It is therefore vital that as the full range of measures to implement mitigation and recover are developed, gender is a key and foremost consideration, otherwise decades of slow progress for women’s equality will be lost.

Date of publication: July 2020.

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Engender submission of evidence to Equality and Human Rights Committee inquiry on Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Equalities and Human Rights

Jun 4, 2020: Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the UK, Engender has sought to draw attention to the highly gendered impacts of both the virus and steps to mitigate it. In doing so, we have pursued the following strategy:

1. To push for gender analysis to be fully integrated into the crisis response, to account for the relevant differences in women’s and men’s lived experience;
2. To press the Scottish Government to maintain focus on its existing commitments to women’s equality and rights; and
3. To argue for a gender-competent recovery plan, including arrangements to exit from lockdown.

We welcome this opportunity to highlight the key impacts of the virus and the current and planned response on women’s equality, rights and safety.

Date of publication: 2 June 2020

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Gender and Inclusive Growth: making inclusive growth work for women in Scotland

Jun 3, 2020: Over recent years, Inclusive Growth is a term that has become more prominent in the policy, development and academic arenas as the uneven distribution of the benefits of growth becomes more and more apparent. Increasing economic inequality within countries has led to new approaches to macroeconomic policy that recognise the benefits of ensuring that countries not only grow the size of their economy but ensure
that inequality is addressed. Economic inequality between men and women is an example of where the benefits of economic growth have not traditionally been shared equally among groups in society.

Gender inequality has long been recognised as a drag on economic growth and closing the employment gap between men and women has
been a key goal of successive development agendas. As feminist economists have long since argued, traditional measures of growth have ignored unpaid work which often takes place within the household and is disproportionately done by women, which reinforces gender unequal access to economic resources and prosperity. As it is currently conceived, Inclusive Growth agendas are not adequately gendered and run the risk of exacerbating gender inequality in the distribution of economic growth.

This joint paper from Engender and Close the Gap has been authored by Emily Thomson, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Date of publication: June 2020

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Gender & Economic Recovery

Jun 2, 2020: The economic downturn precipitated by Covid-19 is different from that caused by previous shocks. It is likely to have a particularly harsh impact on hospitality, retail, and care sectors that are female dominated and dominated by Black and minority ethnic workers. At the same time, services that enable women, and especially disabled women’s, labour market participation, including nurseries, schools, and social care, will need to operate differently to avoid exacerbating the pandemic.

If Scotland’s traditional ways of thinking about the economy won’t work then we need to adopt some new approaches. The following principles develop Scotland’s existing commitment to inclusive growth. They are a set of ideas, challenges, and calls that are rooted in evidence. They describe features of an economy that works for women as well as men. They put care and solidarity at its heart. They will create better jobs, better
decision-making, and a more adequate standard of living for us all.

This joint paper from Engender and Close the Gap sets out nine key principles for an economic recovery which will work for women.

Date of publication: June 2020

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Covid-19: Gathering and using data to ensure that the response integrates women’s equality and rights

Apr 28, 2020: Covid-19 demands an emergency response. Evidence tells us that in working at pace, governments, agencies, and other public bodies can overlook critical differences between men’s and women’s lives. In the Ebola, Zika, and SARS pandemics, this led to significantly worse outcomes for women and girls. In order to rapidly develop public policy and legislation that works for women, it is imperative that public bodies and agencies, including Scottish Government, analyse and use evidence that captures women’s experiences.

During Engender’s 27-year history, we have worked to advocate for better quality gender-sensitive sex-disaggregated data. We were formed with the purpose of ensuring that the detail of women’s lives was visible, counted, and understood in policymaking processes. In this short briefing we set out the key features of gender-sensitive sex-disaggregated data and what we think this should mean for the data gathered and analysed by Scottish Government and other public bodies at this critical time.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: criminal trials during the Covid-19 outbreak

Apr 20, 2020: The Covid-19 pandemic represents a crisis for gender equality around the world and in Scotland. We have already set out in our paper Women and COVID-19 the ways in which Covid-19 places women at increase risks of violence, poverty and inequality and called for gender to by systematically and consistently mainstreamed into our responses to this crisis at every level.

Engender previously called on MSPs and Government to “[e]xplore innovative options to protect women’s access to justice, including juryless trials in the instance of rape and serious sexual assault.” We continue to believe that judge-only trials respect the dignity and rights of women who have experienced gender-based violence, minimises additional trauma of delayed and protracted attempts to seek justice and balance the rights of women and the accused in a proportionate way while our society experiences the present disruption. However, we also recognise that further options have been put forward for the duration of the outbreak and welcome the opportunity here to raise points specific to the possible continuation of jury trials. We are concerned that many of these options will exclude women from participation in jury trials and undermine women’s access to justice by rendering juries less representative of the experiences of Scotland’s population.

Date of Publication: April 2020

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill

Apr 1, 2020: This is a briefing produced by Engender for MSPs debating the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill on 1st April 2020. It covers how the Bill should include a gendered response to the crisis, and includes a supplementary briefing note asking MSPs to support Amendment 54 which will ensure that decision makers must consider the impact of measures introduced under this Bill on women and other protected groups.

Date of publication: April 2020.

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Women and COVID-19

Mar 26, 2020: The COVID-19 global pandemic represents an unprecedented situation and the responses and aftereffects will have long-term consequences for everybody in Scotland, notably for women and women’s equality. These include risks to the ongoing work Scotland is doing to realise a more equal Scotland for women and men. It is vital that these programmes and the progress they will realise are not lost. Equally, women’s needs and realities need to be well-integrated in the urgent responses to this crisis.

The evidence from previous pandemics tells us that gender equality measures and action plans are vital components of an effective response. Women’s inequality around the world exacerbates their vulnerability to not only catching the virus, but the social and economic burdens of our collective response. When the safety nets put in place by the state are stretched to breaking point, it is women that are hit the hardest, and this health crisis is highlighting gaps in UK social and economic policy in an unprecedented way. This briefing explores some of the ways in which the differences between men’s and women’s lives play in to COVID-19, and describes critical issues that Scottish Government and parliamentarians should include in their thinking about crisis response, and medium-run mitigation programmes and spend.

The information in this briefing refers to the situation up to 26th March 2020. We are still in the early days of this crisis and the thinking continues to develop at pace, with new Scottish specific and UK-wide measures announced daily. Engender will continue to monitor events and look to supplement this briefing as necessary.

Date of publication: 26 March 2020

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Joint Parliamentary Briefing: Stage 3 Proceedings: Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill

Mar 23, 2020: Ahead of the Scottish Parliament Stage 3 proceedings of the Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill on 19th March 2020, we joined with Scottish Women's Aid to publish a briefing outlining some key amendments that are well-intentioned but may potentially have unforeseen consequences that risk undermining women’s safety and dignity and the efficacy of the Bill as a whole.

Date of publication: March 2020.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill

Feb 21, 2020: Engender is clear that menstrual care is a women’s health issue, and that barriers to accessing essential products have a negative impact on women and girls’ access to education, work, leisure activities and their wellbeing. The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill establishes a principle of universality, and a minimum legal duty to establish an ‘opt-in’ universal scheme for access to period products in very broad terms, which must be seen as a floor rather than a ceiling. Engender categorically supports this aspiration.

This parliamentary briefing sets our why we are calling on MSPs to support the Bill at Stage One, and agree the principle that everyone who needs access to products to manage their period has a right to access them in Scotland on a free and universal basis.

Date of publication: February 2020.

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Engender response to the UK Government consultation on a new legal framework for abortion services in Northern Ireland

Dec 17, 2019: Engender unequivocally supports women in Northern Ireland’s autonomy over their bodies and lives, and considers abortion access fundamental to women’s rights and gender equality across the whole of the UK.

Until very recently the law discriminated against and criminalised some UK women based upon their residence in Northern Ireland alone. The United Nations CEDAW committee inquiry into restriction of abortion in NI found that the UK Government is responsible for both “grave and systematic violations” of women’s human rights under international law. We therefore welcome the opportunity to respond to this consultation on the means of correcting this denial of rights. These proposals offer scope to go beyond restrictions in place under the Abortion Act 1967, and to bring abortion law in Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK in certain areas.

However, this is by no means guaranteed by the options set out this consultation document. As a bare minimum, the new legal framework for NI must afford women and girls the same rights and healthcare standards as those in England, Scotland and Wales. The creation of a new system also provides an opportunity to learn from issues with delivery of existing abortion services in other parts of the UK, and to set new standards with an improved clinical framework and model of service delivery that works for women and girls in different parts of Northern Ireland.

Date of Publication: 17 December 2019

abortion health
Surrogacy in Scotland

Surrogacy in Scotland

Blog – Sep 10, 2019

health
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Engender response to the Scottish Government consultation on a new National Public Health body: 'Public Health Scotland'

Jul 12, 2019: Engender welcomes this Scottish Government consultation on proposals for Scotland’s new national public health body, Public Health Scotland.

Women and men have different experiences and needs when it comes to their health because of the interactions between biological differences, relative access to resources, power, and safety, and cultural norms and expectations. The ability to influence their lives, behaviours and experiences in order to maximise their physical and mental health outcomes is highly contingent on whether an understanding of these gender differences is well integrated into the work of the proposed body and those working in public health.

Date of publication: July 2019.

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Engender Parliamentary Briefing: It’s Time to End the Stigma of the Menopause

May 20, 2019: This briefing was written for a debate in the Scottish Parliament (S5M-17347: It’s Time to End the Stigma of the Menopause), exploring women's experiences of the menopause in Scotland.

In 2018 there were 1,146,757 women over 50 years living in Scotland, 35% of whom were aged 50-59. This suggests that a significant proportion of today´s population is going through the menopause transition at any one time, yet, there is a distinct lack of awareness of women’s experiences and needs in current policy frameworks. Social stigma and sexism have resulted in the menopause being undiscussed, despite the fact that it affects almost all women at some part of their lives and impacts their health, economic and social inequality.

This briefing covers menopause and health, and menopause in the workplace, as well as outlining Engender's work on the Menopause Matters project.

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Engender submission of evidence to the UK Government Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into abortion law in Northern Ireland

Dec 13, 2018: As Scotland’s representative member on the UK Joint Committee on Women, Engender unequivocally supports women in Northern Ireland’s autonomy over their bodies and lives, and considers abortion access fundamental to women’s rights and gender equality across the whole of the UK. The current law discriminates against and criminalises some UK women based upon their residence in Northern Ireland alone and places the UK Government in breach of its international obligations.

Date of publication: December 2018.

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Engender Response to the Scottish Government Consultation Protecting Children: Review of section 12 of the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 and section 42 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009

Nov 14, 2018: Engender welcomes this opportunity to respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation on proposed changes to section 12 of the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 and to outline some of our current research relevant to the potential impacts.

The question of a correct approach to a legislative response to emotional neglect is outwith the scope of our expertise. We are generally supportive of updating the current offence in section 12 in order to better reflect more modern understandings of emotional harm in line with the views of Scottish Women’s Aid. However, we believe that without careful scrutiny and drafting there may be unintended consequences for vulnerable parents.

Date of publication: November 2018.

womensrights disability health
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Our bodies our rights - Identifying and removing barriers to disabled women's reproductive rights in Scotland

Nov 6, 2018: Since 2013, Engender has been working with disabled women and disabled people’s organisations on a project to discuss the key issues facing women and girls in Scotland, and to enable a deeper and richer conversation about reproductive rights.

This report summarises what women have told us about their experiences of reproductive, sexual and parental rights, and makes recommendations to the Scottish Government and other bodies. Throughout the report you will see quotes from women who took part in project activities.

Date of publication: November 2018.

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Our Bodies, Our Rights Easy Read Report

Nov 6, 2018: This is an Easy Read version of our Disabled Women: Our Bodies, Our Rights Report.

Since 2013, Engender has been working with disabled women and disabled people’s organisations on a project to discuss the key issues facing women and girls in Scotland, and to enable a deeper and richer conversation about reproductive rights.

This report summarises what women have told us about their experiences of reproductive, sexual and parental rights, and makes recommendations to the Scottish Government and other bodies.

Date of publication: November 2018.

disability health womensrights
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Our Bodies, Our Rights: Research Report

Nov 6, 2018: Disabled women’s lives and lived experiences have received limited policy attention in the UK, limited visibility, and limited inclusion in mainstream feminisms and feminist projects. Despite increasing movement towards intersectionality and intersectional agendas, disabled people have remained hidden in myriad ways.

As the accompanying policy report ‘Our Bodies, Our Rights: Identifying and removing barriers to disabled women’s reproductive rights in Scotland’ details, there is a lack of robust research examining the lived experiences of reproduction and reproductive rights of disabled women in Scotland.

Date of publication: November 2018.

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Guest Post: LIFE

Guest Post: LIFE

Blog – Apr 10, 2018

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Access to Abortion: Situating Scotland in the Western World

Sep 28, 2017: This paper describes the different legal and regulatory contexts for abortion healthcare in Scotland and in other European and western nations.

Date of publication: September 2017.

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Our Bodies, Our Choice: The Case for a Scottish Approach to Abortion

Dec 11, 2016: The devolution of abortion law as part of the Scotland Act 2016 also provides Scotland with the opportunity to develop a Scottish approach to women’s reproductive rights, incorporating improved, modernised and standardised service provision underpinned by a progressive devolved legal framework. Such a change to the legal framing of abortion should reflect international best practice and be developed following engagement with women, practitioners, and human rights and gender advocates in Scotland.

This report, supported by Scottish Women's Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, Zero Tolerance, Close the Gap, NUS Scotland and Amnesty International Scotland sets out the current situation around abortion in Scotland, and makes a number of recommendations to the Scottish Government.

Date of publication: December 2016.

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Women's and Equalities Sector Joint Statement to MPs on Proposed Amendment to the Scotland Bill: Abortion (NC56)

Jul 6, 2015: A joint statement from Engender, Scottish Women's Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, Zero Tolerance, Close the Gap, NUS Scotland, Scottish TUC, Abortion Rights Scotland Committee, Abortion Rights, YWCA - the young women's campaign, Amnesty International, Human Rights Consortium Scotland, and Scottish Women's Convention on a proposed amendment to the Scotland Bill.

Date of publication: July 2015.

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Women Thinking Equality Series: Inequality of Access to NHS Services by Trans Women

Mar 5, 2014: This report is part of Engender's 'Women thinking equality' series on intersecting equalities issues. It outlines findings of participatory action research on the inequality of access to NHS services by trans women.

Date of publication: 2011.

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Women Thinking Equality Series: Age

Mar 5, 2014: This briefing paper on gender and age presents findings from Engender's 'Women Thinking Equality' project.

Date of publication: 2009.

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Gender Audit Series: Health

Mar 5, 2014: A summary and discussion of the implications of data from the Gender Audit of Statistics [Breitenbach,E. and Wasoff, F. Scottish Executive Social Research 2007] relating to care and caring prepared by S. Macpherson, Engender Associate and E. Thomson.

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