You Said – We Listened
In July 2018 we ran our second Spotlight topic, inviting feedback on how to tackle gender and poverty in Scotland. We’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who shared their experiences and ideas. The NACWG has read and discussed the feedback and all contributions will be considered as the NACWG decides what recommendations to make to the First Minister at the end of the year.
Please note: these reports summarise the responses received to this open call for submissions. They do not represent the views of the National Advisory Council on women and Girls (we are seeking feedback to gain more insight) nor do they represent a majority view or the view of the Scottish population. They represent the views of those organisations or individuals who have chosen, proactively, to respond.
Who did we hear from?
We had a great response and heard from both individuals and one ‘Wee Circle’ group discussion.
We heard from both men and women, and the age of respondents ranged from high school students to 60. We heard from people of different gender identities, and people with a disability.
We asked three questions:
Q.1 In your experience, what are the biggest issues in terms of how gender and poverty overlap in Scotland?
Q.2 What needs to change to tackle the impact of gender inequality on poverty in Scotland?
Q.3 What ideas do you think the NACWG should recommend to reduce the link between gender inequality and poverty in Scotland?
What did we learn?
The vast majority felt it was an important issue. One person felt ‘parenting and poverty’ was a bigger issue. The majority provided feedback in the context of women and girls, but we also received feedback about how gender poverty can affect boys and men.
Eight main issues and areas for action emerged:
1. Lack of gender consideration in policy decision making
People wanted government decision-makers to consider the possible impacts on gender and poverty – to make sure policies and systems don’t disadvantage one gender financially. People felt this should span all areas of government from welfare benefits and housing, to education and sports.
2. Women carers and the care system
People felt women providing unpaid care (to people who are ill, disabled or elderly) could be a major cause of gendered poverty.
Recommended actions included: understanding better how unpaid care, and social care services influence gender inequality and gender poverty; shifting the burden of care away from women; recognising the specific challenges and poverty issues experienced by women caring for people complex needs, or caring for multiple people; and supporting women to return to employment after a period of unpaid care.
3. Parenting and child care
Parenthood and childcare were raised as issues linked to gender poverty.
Recommendations included making good quality, flexible childcare more accessible and affordable; improving uptake of paternity leave; and understanding better the impact that parents separating and Child Maintenance Services have on poverty for fathers as well as mothers.
4. Education and career choices
People recognised that in-work poverty is a big issue. Tackling the gender pay gap was seen as an important priority. Some people felt that public sector organisations and charities should be doing more to lead by example here.
Zero-hour contracts were also linked to poverty, and people suggested more should be done to understand the impact this has on women specifically.
People felt that work experience options, and careers advice for young women at school could be improved (with fewer career stereotypes, and more diverse opportunities).
Action to encourage more young women into STEM subjects and careers was welcomed, but people wanted to see more diverse encouragement and options across a range of sectors, and for all levels of academic ability.
Seeing male teachers and employers (not just women) acting as champions for young women was felt to be important. People felt more value should be given to traditional ‘women’s work’ such as care, catering, education, third-sector, and creative industries.
6. Gender poverty in island and remote rural communities
Feedback from people living in island and remote rural communities highlighted particular issues such as the tradition of farms and family businesses being passed through the male inheritance line; and the distance/cost of travel to welfare appointments.
Issues around affordable housing were raised, as well as issues around cultural expectations making it hard for young women to move out of the family home and live independently.
7. Gender poverty in relation to domestic abuse
Feedback highlighted that survivors of domestic abuse can face specific gender poverty issues. For example: waiting a long time for welfare, costs of traveling to appointments (especially when leaving
a relationship means no access to a car), and costs associated with leaving refuge, and moving schools etc.
Recommendations included: fast-tracking social security for domestic abuse survivors; providing travel passes to women in refuge; and reassessing if what is provided to families leaving refuge is sufficient.
8. Underlying stigma, stereotypes and behaviours
People highlighted the ways stigma, stereotypes and ‘normalised’ behaviours could all contribute to gender inequality and gender poverty. Recommendations included high profile awareness raising, as well as focused work aimed at young girls to promote resilience, autonomy and confidence.
People also highlighted the gender stigma and stereotypes experienced by boys, men and fathers, and noted how these needed to be tackled in parallel, if we’re to create a more equal society.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their feedback – it is valuable.
We’d love as many people as possible to share their ideas on our Spotlight topic.