Women and constitutional futures

… Gender Equality Matters in a New Scotland 

Women’s voices and issues of gender equality have been largely absent from the current debates around constitutional futures in Scotland, in sharp contrast to their prominence in the run up to devolution in the 1990s. However, it is crucial that women are fully involved in examining the pros and cons of different constitutional options, especially in our current circumstances of economic austerity and welfare state retrenchment. In turn, it’s also important that values and ideas of gender equality and social justice are taken into account from the beginning by constitutional “architects”.

That’s why a group of Scottish academics is working together with like-minded organisations such as the STUC, Engender and ERS, and other activists and opinion-formers to run a series of seminars as a space for discussion and dialogue in the run up to the Independence Referendum of 2014. The programme is called Constitutional Futures: Gender Equality Matters in a New Scotland.

We are running three seminars on Care (6/7 December), the Economy ( 17/18 January), and Women’s Representation and Constitutional Futures (14/15 February). The aim is to put women “in the picture”: in the sense of making women, their lives and experiences, and their diverse perspectives visible and secondly, providing information and access to knowledge for women and for equality advocates.

The seminars and associated activities start in December 2012 and run until March 2013. They are aimed at interested individuals, women’s and civil society organisations, practitioners, policy-makers and political parties.

We will explore the political, economic and social implications of different constitutional options for the lives of women and men in Scotland and likely progress towards a more gender equal society. In so doing, we will be:

a) taking stock of policy developments in key areas since devolution, asking how far have we come to date?

b) drawing on experiences from Scotland and internationally, asking what lessons we might learn? What fresh ideas might we promote?

c) considering our options, asking what can be achieved through constitutional change? And how we might use existing frameworks and levers more effectively to promote social change?

Each event will comprise  discussion sessions structured around contributions from international and Scottish commentators and practitioners, before opening into a wider debate with all participants.  After each event, a facilitated ‘Chatham House Rules’ sessions for politicians and activists, will also be held, aiming to foster free and frank exchange and debate in a safe environment.

Team members have personal positions on the constitutional question, but all are working to provide balanced non-partisan information and analysis, and a space for reasoned exchange.

The programme is funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute and the University of Edinburgh, with support in kind from the University of Stirling, the WISE network (GCU), the STUC, Engender and Nordic Horizons.

About genderpol

The blog of the Gender Politics Research Group, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh - and friends
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