International Women's Day

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:33 pm on 5th March 2009.

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Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party 5:33 pm, 5th March 2009

Absolutely. We are also keen to address that issue.

The gender pay gap for full-time workers in Scotland is currently 13.5 per cent, based on the average, or mean, and the median figure is almost 11 per cent. Those figures are far too high. In our view, there should be equal pay—I am old enough to remember Barbara Castle introducing the Equal Pay Act 1970. Although there has been a slight decrease in the pay gap since 2007, when the equivalent figures were almost 15 per cent and 12 per cent, that is still not good enough and we are determined to do everything that we can to help close the gap.

The gap is even more profound for part-time work: it is just over 32 per cent based on the average, or mean, and almost 35 per cent based on the median. Because such a relatively high proportion of women work part time, that statistic is at least as important as the one for full-time pay.

Although equal pay legislation is reserved, the Scottish Government is trying, through the gender equality duty, to do what we can to address the issues—as did previous Administrations.

I hear what members say about the problems associated with single status and about the trafficking of women. Although it has not been mentioned, forced marriage is also being addressed. We are also addressing, with our Westminster colleagues, the issue of no recourse to public funds; it does not affect a large number of women, but someone who is affected can find themselves in a desperate situation.

I had much more to say, but I have run out of time. I recommit the Scottish Government to the gender equality agenda and I commit this Government to do everything that we possibly can—working with the campaigners in the Parliament—to promote in the months and years to come not only international women's day but equality for women in pay and in every other respect.

Meeting closed at 17:42.