Being bold on International Women’s Day
Be bold for change. It’s a simple message for this year’s International Women’s Day and one we can all get behind.
This international day is a chance to celebrate women’s achievements, contributions and gains. And it is also an opportunity to look at what more can, and should, be done to ensure equality in Scotland, and across the globe.
We know achieving greater equality and sustainable economic growth go hand-in-hand. And despite good news yesterday, with new statistics showing a record high of 45% of appointments to public boards being women, we must be bold in our determination to continue this trend and ensure it spreads across all sectors until there is a fair and equal representation of gender across Scotland’s organisations.
I wanted to look ahead to a time where we will have 50/50 equality in businesses, on boards and across our economy. That is clearly not the case now, so we are taking action.
Our Gender Representation on Public Boards bill, due to be introduced to Parliament this year, will be a significant step forward in ensuring we cement these gains, so that women are properly represented in senior and decision-making positions across Scotland.
We are committed to a fairer and more equal Scotland, and shatter the glass ceiling for women once and for all. We know challenges still remain and that is why we have a range of work underway to make even greater strides towards women’s equality.
Yesterday I led a debate in the Scottish Parliament on women in the workplace and outlined our actions to support women to take their rightful place in the economy. That work is not in isolation, it co-exists with our Fairer Scotland Action Plan, the Disability Delivery Plan, the Race Equality Framework, our Equally Safe strategy to protect women and girls against violence – and our three year funding package for voluntary organisations who work to eradicate it, supported through the £20 million equality budget.
I encourage everyone – no matter what your gender – to be bold for change this International Women’s Day. Until the rights and full potential of women are completely achieved, lasting solutions to our most serious social, economic and political problems at home and abroad are never likely to be truly solved.
As author Zadie Smith said: “progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, and reimagined if it is to survive”.
That’s the challenge for us all on International Women’s Day, so let’s be bold and keep pushing for lasting change.