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:

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

https://www.engender.org.uk/

http://www.women5050.org/

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Equality/Equalities/DataGrid/Gender

https://beta.gov.scot/policies/gender-equality/

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

equalities.ambassador@volunteeredinburgh.org.uk

 

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