Tag Archives: engender

Scotland finally passes Gender Recognition Reform Bill

After 6 years of consultations, draft bills, more consultations and, finally, 3 days of debate with over 150 amendments, the Scottish Parliament passed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill by 86 votes to 39. The Conservatives opposed the Bill, although two of their MSPs voted for it.  There were 9 SNP and 2 Labour rebels opposing it. That must be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, SNP rebellions ever.

Although the debate was often fractious, there was a lot of cross-party working on amendments to develop consensus.

Here’s Scottish Lib Dem Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton speaking in the debate:

All Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs voted for the measure which had the backing not just of LGBT+ organisations in Scotland, but also feminist organisations like Engender and organisations which support survivors of rape and domestic abuse. In its briefing to MSPs ahead of Stage 3, they said:

Another feature of the debate we are concerned by relates to the inference that trans inclusion, and as such trans people, pose a threat to women’s safety and experience of services. These claims are not borne out by evidence of women’s experience of services or violence at the hands of men, here in Scotland or internationally. They also risk stigmatisation and associated harm to trans people; a group who are already at increased risk of discrimination and violence.

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It’s Equal Pay Day – the financial double whammy facing women

Today is the year when, because of the gender pay gap, women are effectively working for free for the rest of the year. Data from the Fawcett Society shows that the gender pay gap this year is 11.3%, slightly down on last year.

This arises for several reasons. Despite legislation outlawing this being passed more than half a century ago. women are often paid less than men for work of equal value.

Women also suffer from unfair barriers to career advancement because they are more likely to have caring responsibilities. This could be addressed by requiring employers to allow more flexible ways of working.

The Fawcett Society has produced a briefing which outlines the extent of the gender pay gap and makes recommendations to reduce it. They call for:

Improve pay gap reporting by:
Introducing mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting for employers
Requiring employers to publish action plans to tackle their pay gaps, so that
real action is taken toreduce pay inequality with accountability and
transparency built in

Lowering the threshold for pay gap reporting to 100 employees, bringing the UK closer to the standards set by other countries

Require employers to offer flexible work arrangements as default and advertise jobs with flexibility built-in

Reform the childcare system to increase affordability whilst ensuring our children get the best start in life

Ban questions about salary history during recruitment and require salary bands to be displayed on job advertisements

Introduce a free standing and legally enforceable ‘Right to Know’ what a male colleague is paid for equal work

Not only are women at the sharp end of the Gender Pay Gap, but they are also being disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis. Scottish feminist organisation Engender has produced a report on this, calling for targeted support for women on low incomes, particularly those with caring responsibilities who are likely to have higher energy needs. They explain why this contributes to greater inequality between men and women:

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Highlighting the “invisible” work women do

One of the features of International Women’s Day over the past few years has been Scottish feminist organisation Engender’s Make Work Visible campaign to highlight the work that women do that really makes the world work but that isn’t recognised.

Not only do women work at their jobs, they often have another full shift to do at home looking after children, or parents, doing the housework, organising stuff. Actually, quite often they do the emotional labour in their offices too, keeping the peace, remembering birthdays, supporting colleagues under stress, organising social events, that sort of thing.

This video from 2014 explains it some more.

Here are some of the highlights so far:

https://twitter.com/VonnSand/status/1103918142089191427

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Who runs the World?

I had an absolutely brilliant day on Thursday at the first ever national Scottish Conference organised by the Women 50/50 Campaign and Engender entitled Who runs the World.

Women from all over the country gathered in Edinburgh’s MacDonald Hotel to discuss politics, the media, getting involved in councils and public appointments and ensuring that all areas of our public and political life had at least 50% women running them. There was a keynote speech from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who said that the Women 50/50 campaign was one of the most significant campaigns in Scotland today.

I’m going to write in more detail about some of the sessions later but here are some of the highlights.

How sexism stops women fulfilling their ambitions

There were two panel sessions during the day. The first, in the morning, discussed participation in and portrayal of women in the media. One of the journalists on the panel, Gina Davidson, told us how she had wanted to the crime reporting job on the paper she was working for. She was turned down for that and given health. Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon had come into Parliament desperate to get on the Audit Committee. Her request was denied by the leadership and she ended up with health, a subject that she knew nothing about. Having said that, she has developed quite an affinity with it – she intends to spend her retirement volunteering for a mental health project. Even so, women are often directed into areas traditionally seen as theirs.

Working across parties

It’s great when women from all parties get together. We find out that we share a lot of the same frustrations and come across the same behaviours across politics. There was some talk on whether there should be a formal Women’s Caucus at Holyrood, something that the MSPs there thought could be useful. There are already examples of cross party working. Labour leader Kezia Dugdale talked about having a quiet word with then Employment Minister Angela Constance (also on the panel) after she’d noticed that all the photos on the construction page of Skills Development Scotland showed men wearing hard hats. Angela went and got it changed.

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