Women Political Leaders Forum – Visit to Lithuania

June 7, 2018 by No Comments | Category Europe

On 6-7 June, I am visiting Lithuania to take part in the Women Political Leader’s (WPL) Summit and strengthen Scotland’s links with our European partners.

Bringing together female political leaders from around the world, the summit is an excellent opportunity to discuss global challenges and exchange best practice in relation to women’s representation in politics and wider gender equality issues.

Especially in 2018, as both Scotland and Lithuania mark the 100 year anniversary since some women secured the right to vote, this is an occasion for us all to reflect on the progress made to date and look at the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The Scottish Government is currently taking major action to support women in the workplace – through measures like free childcare and strengthened laws against domestic abuse and violence against women. We are also encouraging more women and girls to pursue careers in science, technology engineering and maths.

Promoting women’s equality and supporting their ambitions to actively contribute to Scotland’s political life is one the top priorities of the Scottish Government. Equality for women is at the heart of our vision for an equal Scotland and our Programme for Government set out our ambitions, including legislating for gender balance on public sector boards – which passed final stage approval in Parliament earlier this year, with near unanimous support, creating a new Advisory Council on Women and Girls, and piloting a returners project to help women back in to the workplace after a career break.

While we are always keen to share knowledge and best practices, we are also determined to learn from other countries. This summit is a great opportunity to do that: by sharing ideas, experiences and knowledge, I believe we can improve the lives of women and girls around the world.

In addition, this visit also presents an opportunity to strengthen Scotland’s relationship with Lithuania, one of the seven countries included in the Scottish Government’s Nordic Baltic Policy Statement.

Scotland has strong connections with Lithuania and its neighbours in the wider Nordic and Baltic region. Nordic and Baltic countries are established leaders in environmental, research, innovation and social issues – all areas where Scotland also leads the world – and there is lots of potential for us to continue to work together and strengthen our connections.

As shown in our recently published paper on ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs, Investments’, Brexit implications for Scotland’s economy are going to be extremely damaging for our economy, demography and wider wellbeing as a nation.

Our Nordic Baltic Policy Statement is especially important, in this context and is why the Scottish Government is committed to securing our important connections with Lithuania and Nordic partners in the future. There are many areas we can work together to strengthen our economic, cultural and social ties and I am looking forward to continuing to share our expertise and learn from others.

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