First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed the United Nations today to announce further funding for the Women in Conflict Fellowship. A number of other projects that are aimed at improving equality for women are underway.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed the United Nations today to announce further funding for the Women in Conflict Fellowship. The initiative, started in 2015, was put in place to train women from areas of conflict around the world so that they can play an integral role in the peace process. We're making a commitment with our partners Beyond Borders to continue this programme for another four years! To allow this to happen, increased funding of £1.2 million has been confirmed for the programme.
A Scottish Government spokesperson has commented on the project, stating:
"We're proud that the UN asked Scotland to lead on a women's peace-making initiative. Every year we will fund training and capacity building for at least 50 women from affected countries, ensuring that they have the skills and confidence to maximise their contribution to building a safer world."
This Fellowship enhances and develops Scotland's role as a peace-making hub and as a platform for providing a safe space for parties to come together and engage in fruitful discussion. Scotland's uniquely peaceful history of political settlement and devolution allows constitutional and political experts to be involved in the process, who are able to share their experiences and knowledge.
The initiative is based on the principles of a UN Security Council Resolution, which reaffirms the role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict. The resolution stresses the importance of equal participation for women in all efforts for the promotion of peace and security, something in which Scotland strongly believes. Scotland was asked by the UN Special Envoy for Syria for support in training women peace mediators from Syria in the essential negotiation and communication skills needed to resolve conflict between communities.
The first Women in Conflict Fellowship brought a group of eight women from identified conflict regions (Syria, Yemen and Iraq) to Scotland to take part in a five day residential peace fellowship programme. Through the programme, we helped equip these female activists with the knowledge and skills to maximise their participation in any future peace processes in their regions.
This is part of Scotland's commitment to creating a modern, inclusive country which protects, respects and realises internationally recognised human rights standards. As a good global citizen, Scotland has a strong and enduring commitment to securing democracy, the rule of law and fundamental human rights across the world. Not only that, as one of the leaders in equal rights, we believe it's just as important that women play a key role in this commitment.
The Women in Conflict Fellowship is just one of the ways in which Scotland is helping shape a more equal society. A number of other projects are also in full flow that are aimed at improving equality for women. During her visit to the UN, the First Minister has also met with the Leadership of United Nations Women to discuss Scotland's work in improving the role and representation of women.
One initiative, 'Actions for Women', is an excellent example of Scotland's continued push for gender equality. After all, equality for women is at the heart of the Scottish Government's vision for an equal Scotland. We take great pride in the fact that Scotland leads by example, by having one of the very few gender-balanced cabinets anywhere, with all ministers, male or female appointed by merit.
Also, in terms of the employment gap, Scotland is ahead of the curve of the rest of the UK. Not only do we perform better than the UK on women's employment and inactivity rates, but the gender employment gap has narrowed significantly in Scotland since 2007. On top of this, we also support organisations, networks and individual women and girls to champion gender equality.
Another strategy, 'Equally Safe', is aimed at preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. Originally started in 2014, Equally Safe is a co-owned strategy between the Scottish Government and Scottish Local Authorities which regards violence against women and girls as a fundamental violation of their human rights.
Through these strategies, as well as the Women in Conflict initiative, Scotland is forging ahead on the subject of gender equality. Scotland is working hard to underpin the UN Secretary General's message of increased female representation in the UN and in the prevention of conflict. Just as we welcomed the opportunity to work with the UN on this important initiative, we are always looking for other opportunities to promote gender equality and ensure women have an equal place across the globe.