More diversity is needed if Scottish politics is to be truly inclusive
Equalities’ groups are pledging to increase diversity in Scottish politics and push for greater inclusion of marginalised groups.
Engender, Inclusion Scotland, Bemis, the Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO), Stonewall Scotland, the Equality Network and the Women 5050 campaign have united to enable political parties to remove the barriers that stop underrepresented groups from taking part in politics.
Initially the groups will produce an online tool that will allow those involved in political parties, from national executives to local branches, to audit their practices and get help on how to remove barriers to getting involved.
The website will be available to political parties and community groups in the autumn, and the project is currently seeking branches of political parties to pilot the tool.
Emma Ritch, executive director of Engender, Scotland’s feminist policy organisation said: “We know that when there is greater diversity in our democratic spaces, better decisions are made.
Political parties know they must do more to challenge the over-representation of white, non-disabled men in politics, and this project aims to help them take real action to improve the extent to which political parties and our elected representatives look like the population of Scotland.
“Women’s representation remains woefully low in local councils; only 29% of our local councillors in Scotland are women.
"This means women’s voices are missing from the debating chambers of local councils, when they make decisions on issues of direct relevance, from our schools to licensing decisions, and from museums to violence against women services.
“We’re delighted to be working with colleagues across the equalities sector on this project, which will ensure that Scotland’s elected representatives truly reflect the diversity of Scotland’s population”
The project aims to build on inclusion initiatives such the Access to Elected Office Fund which was created last year
Managed by Inclusion Scotland, the fund offers financial support for disabled candidates to reduce or eliminate disadvantage during the selection process and election campaign.
Phyl Meyer, employability and civic participation manager at Inclusion Scotland, said: “The Access Fund has proven a big success, enabling many candidates to compete on a much more level playing field than has ever been possible before.
“We are seeing people who would never have previously considered candidacy before claiming their democratic right to seek elected office. We look forward to working with parties and political organisations to build on this excellent start.”