News & Blog

I’m Still Here

We are pleased to launch a new project by our Equalities Ambassador Esther on the effects of loneliness. Called “I’m Still Here” we would love to hear as many different experiences as possible, please get in contact if you are interested in taking part. 


Hello, my name is Esther and I am a volunteer Equalities Ambassador with the Equality and Rights Network (EaRN). I am interested by issues that affect a diverse range of people living in today’s society, issues that cross sections, are indiscriminate in who they affect, and often go unnoticed when the people involved have more “obvious” problems to deal with. We are all living in an era which, at times, seems to have forgotten what the word “society” really means and the repercussions of that amnesia can be felt quite severely by people who often see themselves as less able to speak out about their own experiences and even less hopeful that anyone will hear them.


In a world where life seems to have no time to pause and think, where social media and digital connectivity are increasingly sweeping away face-to-face human contact, do we really think that our innate needs as “social animals” are being met? Do the busy people ever consider those whose lives might be less fully occupied? And, if they do, what attitudes do they adopt? Do the people who feel excluded, marginalised or isolated from “mainstream society” think that they are even visible?


I am looking for people who might be interested in talking to me about their personal experiences of loneliness and their views on why and how this affects them. I hope to collect recorded testimonies from participants and use these as the basis for a piece of theatre aimed at raising awareness and promoting discussion around this topic. All statements would be anonymised and no words would be used without the agreement of the speaker.


If you are interested in talking with me and making a contribution to this project, or if you’d just like to find out more, contact us on


I look forward to meeting you and hearing your stories.


Esther Quinn

EaRN Equalities Ambassador

International Women’s Day: #PressforProgress & Scotland

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, Equalities Ambassador Hannah Bourne writes about  the effort to #PressforProgress here in Scotland.

Today marks 2018’s International Women’s Day and the beginning of their campaign for the next year- #PressforProgress. Here in Scotland gender inequality has a similar picture to that of the rest of the UK and many other developed countries- and Engender- one of the largest organisations for Scottish gender equality, have identified 6 main gaps that women in Scotland face.

  • The CARE gap- most unpaid carers are women and twice as many female carers rely on benefits than male carers
  • The FREEDOM gap- every 13 minutes a Scottish woman experiences violence (for more information on this, see my previous blog post titled ‘Violence Against Women: The Ultimate Discrimination’)
  • The INCOME gap- twice as many women rely on benefits and tax credits as men, and 95% of lone parents dependent on income support are women- highlighting the vulnerability of motherhood
  • The PAY gap- women earn 13% less than men as full time workers and 32% less than men part time, and sectors where there are large proportions of women are low-paid and undervalued
  • The POWER gap- only 15% of senior police, 15% of high court judges, 10% of newspaper editors and 8% of FTSE firm directors are women
  • The REPRESENTATION gap- only 35% of MSPs, 23% of councillors and 10% of council leaders are women

Even just quickly reading through these summaries it is clear to see how interconnected these gaps are and how inequalities in one area support and perpetuate inequalities in another. Despite the higher educational achievements of women in Scotland- in 2015/16 67.3% of female compared to 56.3% of male left high school with one more qualifications at SCQF level 6 or better and 56.5% of students in Higher Education were women, when it gets to the work place women are discriminated in to worse jobs with lower wages, and so should it be surprising that some women choose not to work and instead care for those that their previous wages hadn’t afforded care for- whether that be parents, children, siblings?

There are so many barriers that women even here in Scotland face aside from just care roles, and if women are trapped by lower pay and reputation of jobs they don’t have the resources or voice to make change or even make these inequalities known; I imagine most readers are surprised by the statistics mentioned above being here in Scotland- it is not just in the high profile cases like that of the BBC gender pay gap or FGM in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that discriminate against women. These channels can be far more subtle and are often seen in societal norms- for example women taking care of the children and men acting as the sole “bread winners”, and consequently women themselves self-select in to these roles which for many women is an active choice and so not a problem, but for those with no choice these roles remove their freedom and opportunity to achieve independence. This situation is worsened by the power and representation gaps- with no one to fight their corner women facing discrimination fight a losing battle, and so change needs to come from within these power and representation gaps.

But far more importantly, what can be done here in Scotland to promote gender equality? The IWD’s theme #PressforProgress builds on the recent global activism of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, and calls for action to press for progress towards gender parity through uniting friends, colleagues, communities, workplace and organisations to think and act on gender inclusivity, and so increase the power and representation of women who face problems because of their gender and potentially other dimensions such as race and disability that can widen these inequalities much further. There has never been a more important time to join the fight for gender equality, and the projects of local organisations like Engender and Women 50:50 have made this even easier for the Scottish people- whether you get involved in Engender’s ‘Make Work Visible’ campaign, or read more about the gender balance in politics on Women 50:50’s website, we here at EaRN want to support the IWD’s campaign over the next 12 months and hope that you will support us in our work to fulfil our 3 main goals- advance equality, promote human rights, and tackle inequality and poverty in Edinburgh.

For more information on gender in Scotland and International Women’s Day, see:

And for any further information feel free to contact me, Hannah Bourne, at:


Breaking Down Barriers….. with a song and a dance!

In this blog post Equalities Ambassador Nada Shawa discusses our upcoming event Breaking Down Barriers. 

EaRN has been working on making a difference in highlighting equality and inclusivity in all areas. Some of the EaRN Ambassadors have been working to promote disability rights, but especially setting out a plan of action to increase awareness of the need to improve access for people with disabilities to public and commercial establishments in Edinburgh.

As part of this work EaRN is excited to be hosting a forthcoming event titled Breaking Down Barriers: Disability, Visibility, Accessibility. The event will be on Saturday 10th February, 2pm – 4pm at Norton Park Conference Centre, 57 Albion Road, Edinburgh, EH7 5QY.

We hope to break down these barriers with a showcase of variety with music, dance, film and poetry. There will also be the opportunity to look at stalls from various community organisations, promoting equality and rights, craft, and the latest technological innovations in disability inclusivity.

I am personally pleased to be helping organise this event, which will showcase talent, skills and be extremely informative. Because it is now time to really have an inclusive awareness towards people with disabilities in a cultured society as Edinburgh.

You can reserve a free space by visiting our Eventbrite page.

You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the latest news.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights


In this blog Equalities Ambassador Luke Padfield discusses the House of Commons vote on the retention of  the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights once the UK leaves the European Union.


The House of Commons has voted against retaining the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK Law after Brexit.[1]

So what have we lost? The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is different to the European Convention on Human Rights. While many of the provisions of the two documents overlap, the EU Charter is primarily designed to limit the scope of European Union institutions in the exercise of making and amending laws that affect the EU and its member states. The EU Charter is binding on member states although only in so far as when member states are implementing EU law. It has been noted that while this doesn’t happen very often there are significant impacts in the areas of immigration and employment law.[2]

One of the most significant differences between the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter is that when the Courts find that there has been a violation of a Human Right under the ECHR they are empowered to make a declaration of incompatibility, whereas the European Court of Justice, the body that oversees the administration of the EU Charter, is empowered to strike down the offending legislation.

A prominent legal academic has argued that the removal of the EU Charter will lead to:

  1. A reduction in substantive rights available to persons living in the UK
  2. A loss of EU law remedies
  3. Make it impossible to effectively challenge EU legislation which infringes Human Rights[3]

The significant point here is that as a result of the removal of the EU Charter, despite all the complicated caveats, it will mean that it will no longer be possible to use the Charter and its articles (like the right to healthcare or the rights of the child) as the basis of a legal argument that citizens can use to challenge the actions of those in power. It is perhaps for this reason that the Scottish Human Rights Commission are advocating the incorporation of the International Covenant on Social and Economic Rights (ICSER) into domestic law.




Incorporating the Right to Health

In this blog post, our Equalities Ambassador Luke Padfield writes about a new research project looking at the possible incorporation of the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights into domestic law.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has recently announced that they are undertaking a new piece of research on the Incorporation of International Human Rights Standards. The call comes at a particularly crucial time as the details of the effects of Brexit on rights in Edinburgh start to become clearer.

One concern, among many, is that Article 35 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights (CFR), the Right to Health Care, will no longer be applicable post-brexit. Article 35 of the CFR states that, “Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices. A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all the Union’s policies and activities.”

While it is true that Brexit will not affect our continued enjoyment of rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), incorporated with the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), the right to health is not expressly articulated in either of these documents.[i]

The SHRC research proposal focuses on the possibility of incorporating the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (ICESR) into Scots law. Article 12 of the ICESR articulates the right to health and calls upon state parties to recognise, “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”. The SHRC has scheduled a workshop in March 2018 to discuss the issue further.



Improving Services For Hard of Hearing People

Do you or someone you know have an acquired hearing loss?

The City of Edinburgh Council, the NHS and charities in Edinburgh are developing new services for people who are hard of hearing or deafened with a view to improving services for hard of hearing people.

Please help them to get things right by completing the questionnaire.

You can either download a Microsoft Word file here to complete which can be posted to the City of Edinburgh Council at the address provided at the end of the document, or alternatively you can complete the survey online here or by clicking on the button below.


Begin Survey