rhodagrantRhoda Grant MSP, Scottish Labour’s Equalities Spokesperson, announces the launch of Achieving Women’s Equality, a Scottish Labour consultation paper on how we can overturn the inbuilt gender inequality in our society.


The headlines have not been kind for women in the workplace this week. Monday was Equal Pay Day – the day of the year when British women effectively start working for free because of the wage gap.

Then Wednesday brought the latest job market figures, which showed that the 11,000 increase in unemployment overwhelmingly saw women lose out with 9,000 women becoming unemployed over the summer months.

We may have three female leaders in the Scottish Parliament, but it is clear we still need to answer the big questions on women’s equality.

Scottish Labour has always led by example on women’s equality.  The first Scottish Parliament had 50:50 representation.   We thought we had made major inroads; however without action, gender inequality still pervades.

We have promoted policies that tackle women’s inequality issues, and have published Women’s Manifestos, but these are only steps in the journey that we must continue until we gain real equality.

If we are to tackle our society’s many inbuilt inequalities that prevent women from achieving their potential we need to focus on specific areas where inequalities are at their worst, and also ensuring women have access to power to make real change.

That is why today Scottish Labour has launched “Achieving Women’s Equality” – a consultation paper covering a range of issues from health, to the economy to justice.

This paper asks how we should achieve this, not only looking at the age old problems of caring responsibilities and childcare, but how we value women for being women.

How do we overturn the inbuilt gender inequality in our society and ensure that we go forward on an equal footing?

It is widely understood that women need to be better than men to compete; to be super woman, a nurturer, carer and genius.  This is simply not practical.  We all know people who achieve all these things and leave us watching in wonder and in awe but this cannot be the norm for one gender and not the other.

We in the Scottish Labour Party have a vision about how we change society, but we want to test this more widely.  Neither do we believe we have all the answers and are keen to hear views and thoughts about what we should do and indeed issues that we may have missed.

Our paper lays out a number of issues, both about how women can achieve more and also looking at the barriers that hold them back.

These barriers can be physical, they need to give up opportunities to carry out a caring role, or they can be attitudinal; the idea that women cannot do a job as well as men, or that they will not be so committed.  These attitudes pervade.

When women push themselves forward and compete, there is often someone there pulling them back.  The press when discussing women are more likely to include their age and a comment about their personal appearance, something that never happens with men.

There are also a whole raft of words used to describe women who compete: “pushy”, “harridan” and many many more.

We need to have a zero tolerance approach to this kind of portrayal if we are to encourage women into positions of power.

We also need to give women the confidence and self-esteem to push themselves forward. Again men tend to have more confidence in their own ability while women tend to question theirs – why does that happen?  Are we able to tackle these very fundamental ingrained attitudes which are held as much by women as men?

I believe that by valuing women and empowering them we can go a long way towards creating an equal society.

This is not only important for women now, but also for future generations.  A child’s life changes are inextricably linked to its mother’s wealth and opportunity.  We can ensure that we all reach our full potential by ensuring women reach theirs.

This consultation document is not just for women, it is for men also – we need more male feminists if we are to challenge the age old inequalities and attitudes that exist.

Related Posts

23 thoughts on “Achieving women’s equality

  1. Rhoda thank you for your interesting article I enjoyed it immensely however you will have to up your game as the SNP are miles ahead of the Scottish Labour section on all aspects of women’s equality it is especially welcome today that the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave a keynote address at the Women 50:50 conference for gender balance on public sector boards supporting women’s equalities see the link below. The Scottish Labour section should encourage more women MSPs as it is being shown up by the SNP who have a lot more women MSPs in the SNP.


    1. Labour has had a greater proportion of women MSPs than the SNP in every election since 1999.

      MSPs gender graph

      And by the by, Kezia Dugdale also made a keynote speech at the Women 50:50 event yesterday, partly because she happens to be one of the co-conveners of the organisation, alongside Alison Johnstone of the Scottish Greens.

      Do you have anything substantive to say about the serious proposals made in the consultation paper, or are you genuinely limited to SNP cheerleading?

      1. Duncan a wee bit touchy today maybe it’s something’s to do with Nicola Sturgeon being more popular in the polls with Scottish Labour section supporters than Kezia Dugdale anyway at least in Nicola Sturgeon the SNP have a woman leader and the Labour Party UK don’t and as the SNP are a national party of Scotland they are the only party in the country who has a woman party leader.

        1. So no response to the fact that Scottish Labour have been way ahead of the SNP on gender equality since 1999? Just yet another constitutional grievance? You really do paint a sad picture of the sort of people the SNP gets support from.

          1. Come on Duncan, grow up.
            This is an issue that affects all, and all carry a degree of guilt. My mother fought for equal wages for pithead workers 40 years ago, She was dead before it was ever settled. Many women in council jobs have been let down by generations of trade unionists not being willing to negotiate for gender equality. That goes ditto in industry, where female workers were doomed to have male unionist talking for them ( or not, more likely ).
            Many councils have still not settled.
            Sturgeon cannot be faulted at her commitment to gender progress, and it is just cheap game-playing for you to play one-up-manship.

          2. Not playing one-up-manship. I was responding to a comment you seem to have entirely ignored, which claimed that the SNP are “miles ahead of the Scottish Labour section on all aspects of women’s equality” and made the completely disingenuous claim that the SNP “have a lot more women MSPs” when in truth the party that has led from the start on MSP gender balance in the Scottish Parliament is Labour. I’m entitled to defend that record without it being called game-playing or cheap.

            Equal pay claims in councils are a serious issue. Many Labour councils have settled. Edinburgh was among the first to do so. Others have not and more work is needed. The article and the consultation paper it launches address a whole range of issues like this in an open and honest manner. That’s how this debate should be conducted. The comment I was responding to was not in this spirit. It was cheap and dishonest and deserved being called out.

          3. Duncan I don’t want to set you off again anyway fasten your seat-bel because the figures below make interesting reading perhaps you could knock up another graph chart like the one above and put them on it.

            “HALF of Scots don’t know who Kezia Dugdale is as her party continues to struggle against the rising popularity of the SNP, a new poll has found.

            The survey showed 46 per cent of people did not know who the Scottish Labour leader is and that figure included 39 per cent of those intending to vote for her party at the Holyrood elections next May.”

          4. Labour are UK wide Duncan not Scotland wide. What proportion of TOTAL political party representation across the UK has the better gender balance? Including local council level.

            That would be a more accurate measure of the PARTIES as a whole don’t you think? And not the skewed offering you’re trying so desperately to present in order to misrepresent. Again.

            Could it be that the gender balance in Scotland is a representation of Labour in the UK in that the male dominated party keeps the prime seats from Labours perspective in England for its Male members and gives the women what Labour sees as its second tier seats?

          5. Ah yes, if you lose the argument, change the question. 🙂

            As it happens, the gender balance in Labour’s MPs is 43% women to 57% men, while the SNP’s MPs are 38% women to 62% men. Still, that’s an improvement over the previous parliament, where only 17% of SNP MPs were women.

            I don’t know the figures for local councils – maybe you can enlighten me? But I’ve clearly demonstrated that the claim that the SNP are “miles ahead of the Scottish Labour section on all aspects of women’s equality” is dishonest guff, even when extended to the UK Parliament.

  2. We will never achieve any meaningful degree of women’s equality, or any other kind of equality, until we finally embrace socialism, and hence abandon Free Enterprise(Man mind thy self), which just happens to be on it’s last legs(check out The Keiser Report).

    For example we lost all our MP earlier this year. The question is are we really any poorer? More to the point why don’t we replace them with who happen to be unemployed or housewives at the time, all delegates, all on short contracts – in for a year each in turn, all on the average wage paid to constituency secretaries, who would also be in charge of expenses and hence distributing surpluses and socials. Maybe after a spell could extend the reform to The Lords. After listening to the pompous prat of a Nottingham Labour MP and the wee sleekit Scots Tory with the Italian name, who both participated in the Scottish Committee earlier in the week, none of us will be out of our depth

    If power is evenly spread it can’t be easily abused.= Rab the Ranter

  3. “But I’ve clearly demonstrated that the claim that the SNP are “miles ahead of the Scottish Labour section on all aspects of women’s equality” is dishonest guff, even when extended to the UK Parliament.”

    Did you no forget the House of Lords? Try totaling it all up per party Duncan.

    1. Labour has far more female members of the House of Lords than the SNP too.

      1. Oh dear Duncan. Seems your average of comparison falls a bit flat when you put up the whole Labour party representation up to the whole of the SNP representation as you should have done from the beginning instead of once again trying badly to deceive and misinform. Again.

        1. No, in fact I’ve demonstrated that on every available measure the statement made about the SNP being better is false.

      2. But not enough to balance the overall Labour SNP gender balance comparison in favour of Labour Duncan.
        A comparison you should have noted from the start instead of once again trying to deceive and misinform.

          1. Not in mathematical terms Duncan. Not in this universe.

            You take the entire SNP party political representation in comparison with the entire Labour party representation and you see clearly that the SNP has a better gender balance ratio.

            Scottish Parliament + Westminster Parliament + Welsh assembly + local councils across the UK.

            Undeniable even by your deceitful standards.

          2. Remind me, what is the SNP’s gender balance in the Welsh Assembly? 🙂

            Something else unbalanced here if you ask me.

      3. Duncan you made me laugh Ha Ha Ha at least you have a sense of humour on a serious note it wont be too long before you are suited up in a coat of ermine and are rewarded for your service to the dysfunctional failing union. What would your title be Lord Duncan of ……. can you please help me out and fill in the blank.

      4. The measurement is not how many female members there are but the gender balance between the parties Duncan.
        Care to tell us how the total relative gender balance is in Westminster?

        How about we do the same with the local council gender balance Duncan?

Comments are closed.