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What impact will Party Manifestos really have on equality?

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What impact will your manifesto really have on equality?

Rebecca Marek - December 2015

Equality is an ideal often spoken about in Scottish politics, with most political parties espousing equality in their rhetoric and advocating the advancement of equality, the elimination of discrimination, and the development of a fairer Scotland for all.

However, we know that in practice, this is not always the case. Manifesto commitments, political proposals, government policies, and legislation at times leaves groups with protected characteristics disadvantaged, acknowledges the needs of one equality group while overlooking the needs of others, or misses opportunities to progress a wider equality agenda.

And so, as we approach the 2016 Holyrood Elections, CRER is asking all political parties in Scotland to consider undertaking a (voluntary) Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) of their manifestos.

An EqIA is a systematic approach to examining the aims and outcomes of policy proposals to anticipate the likely impact of the proposals on people from all protected characteristics. It identifies who the proposals will benefit, determines whether there is any negative impact on groups with protected characteristics, and analyses whether is there is a disparate impact on any one group in particular. 

CRER believes that if achieving equality is a priority for political parties during the term of the next Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government, significant consideration must be given to the aims and possible effects of manifesto proposals. Undertaking an EqIA would assist political parties in identifying the impact of their proposals on groups with protected characteristics, and demonstrate that parties are being conscientious and intentional about equality.

It’s not enough for parties to incorporate the word “equality” into their manifesto, nor is it enough to address one type of equality and ignore the rest. It’s also not enough to have a manifesto section on equality, when other sections include proposals that will likely lead to further inequality. Rather, the principle of equality should be mainstreamed throughout manifestos, and proposals should be assessed before they become commitments of the next government and parliament. 

If parties want to prove that they are serious about achieving equality – not just speaking about equality – this is a good place to start. Equality in Scotland, after all, has to matter past 5th May 2016. Why not demonstrate that commitment now? 

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