Equality in Scotland: Some Improvements, But Discrimination Continues in Key Areas

Third Force News (21/01/2016) - An investigation into equality and human rights in Scotland has found some improvements but discrimination still exists in key areas.

Disabled and poorer children and gypsy travellers are falling further behind other pupils in Scotland’s schools.

And despite being better educated, Scottish women are less likely to have a job than men and those who do are less likely to be in a senior role.

These are just some of the findings of the biggest ever study into equality and human rights in Scotland, conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

For some – women, young people and disabled Scots in particular – the report highlights several concerning factors

While, EHRC has found that Scotland is getting fairer in some areas, in others there’s still a long way to go.

Overall, educational attainment has increased in Scotland, but those who are not improving are lagging even further behind.

Scotland’s workplaces also still need to do more to tackle inequality, the report found. Men are twice as likely as women to be in senior positions in employment and although the gender pay gap narrowed slightly between 2008 and 2013, other groups, such as disabled people, are earning less on average than non-disabled people.

One in five young people are unemployed, as are 12% of disabled people and 13% of ethnic minority groups, compared to an national average of 7%.

Meanwhile, on a positive note, people in Scotland generally feel safe and experience and fear of crime is falling.

There has also been a decrease in suicides in Scotland, although men had consistently higher rates than women. There is a clear link between suicide and deprivation, with suicide rates three times higher in the most deprived 10th of the population.

The gap in life expectancy between men and women narrowed, but the link between deprivation and lower life expectancy remained.

Commenting on the report, Alastair Pringle, Scotland director of the EHRC said: “Equality and human rights are at the heart of Scottish life and Scots are rightly proud of our inclusive society.

“Today’s report indicates for many people society is getting fairer. However, for some – women, young people and disabled Scots in particular – the report highlights several concerning factors which will need action at a Scotland or GB level.

“While attitudes towards some groups have clearly improved – for example, for Scotland’s lesbian, gay and bisexual communities – stigma and negative attitudes persist towards people with mental health problems and Gypsy/Travellers. Hate crimes related to race were the most commonly identified crimes recorded by the police.”

The EHRC Scotland has outlined seven key equality and human rights areas for improvement in Scotland in the coming years. These include closing attainment gaps in education, encouraging fair recruitment in employment, improving the availability and use of evidence, and tackling the harassment and abuse of people who share particular protected characteristics.

Pringle added: “There has been good progress made, but there is work still to do. We all have a part to play in making Scotland fairer, and the EHRC look forward to doing our bit.”

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