[Edinburgh, 20 April 2015]
Article by Alys Mumford at Engender Scotland
2015 is a key year for women. 20 years since the Beijing Platform for Action was agreed, it marks a time for women’s organisations and governments to take stock – to see what has been achieved for gender equality, and to see how far we still have to go. On April 1st Engender, Scotland’s gender equality organisation, held an event at the Scottish Parliament to mark Beijing+20 and challenge the Scottish Government to take further action.
We heard from Christina McKelvie MSP about the commitment from the Scottish Government to push for gender equality. Scotland is now, for the first time since the creation of a devolved parliament, led by a woman First Minister with a gender balanced cabinet backing her. For some this serves as proof that sexism is no longer a problem in Scotland. Of course most know this to be simply wishful thinking, but it is nonetheless a powerful statement towards gender equality.
Also speaking at the event were Kara Brown of the Young Women’s Movement and Lily Greenan, former chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid. Both Kara and Lily had just returned from the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) talks in New York and were able to feed back on the inclusivity of the talks. While the vibrant NGO sector ensures that the fringe events are vibrant and accessible, it seems we have a long way to go before the voices of young women and women from the global south are truly heard in the official talks.
Engender has looked at how the Scottish Government is performing against 10 areas of critical concern as set out in the Beijing Platform for Action – from violence against women to women and the environment. While the Scottish Government has made some progressive moves when it comes to gender equality, there is still much to be done in terms of mainstreaming, recognising intersectionality, and putting words into action. The anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action gives women’s and other equality organisations the chance to push for further change and hold our governments to account.