Scotland’s Constitutional Future discussion

by Alison Lockhart, WiSE Research Centre

I really enjoyed the recent Insight Institute’s Constitutional Futures debate on Gender Equality Matters in a New Scotland.  Whilst we listened to some pretty gloomy stories and statistics I came away feeling positive that this wasn’t just another “talking shop” and that our input to Scotland’s Constitutional Future can and will make a difference.

Thought-provoking presentations from Claire Annesley and Diane Elson UK Women’s Budget Group, and a really interesting look at Scotland’s economic position from Professor Mike Danson, Heriot Watt University, Professor Ailsa McKay WiSE, Glasgow Caledonian University, Ann Henderson  and Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretaries, STUC, and Gary Gillespie Chief Economic Adviser to the Scottish Government, all brought together by chair Lesley Riddoch, ensured there was plenty to discuss at the roundtable sessions.

The prospect of the UK entering an unprecedented triple dip recession and the plain facts that women are being hit hardest by the recession and recovery packages (see WiSE Briefing Sheet no 2), provided the basis for the first round table question:  What does the evidence tell us about Scotland’s future economy?  We noted in particular that the care sector, whilst being a sector of economic growth (by 2030 it is expected that 40% of school leavers will be needed to cope with the ageing population) is still undervalued and underpaid, yet we look at our Nordic neighbours who place care work in high regard and value.  But the Scottish Government is funding billions to “shovel ready” projects (male dominated construction industries) in order to kick start the economy.

Who is responsible for acting upon the evidence heard at the sessions?  Of course we all are, and there are many good organisations who already lobby the Government, but if there is little outcome then perhaps tactics need to be changed.  Are we too polite!?  Politicians and academics should also be sharing information and research.

What are the most relevant indicators highlighting gender difference in the Scottish labour market?  Does anyone really act on an indicator!?  We just need plain, straightforward, up-to-date factual data to be available. Many’s the time I’ve been asked to obtain Scottish data and have only been able to get UK figures.

As Professor Ailsa McKay says “We have a brilliant opportunity over the next 14 months to shape the kind of Scotland we want regardless of our constitutional future.”

The next event takes place in Edinburgh on 14 & 15 February.  To book a place register here:

http://www.scottishinsight.ac.uk/Programmes/Programmes20122013/Constitutionalfutures.aspx

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