New law on gender balance passed in Scotland

The Scottish Parliment has passed new laws on gender balance | Image credit:

Scotland has become the first place in the UK to have statutory gender targets for public boards.

The Scottish Parliament voted 88 to 28 in favour of legislation for women to make up at least 50% of members of all public boards in Scotland including: universities, health boards and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Women make up just over 50% of the Scottish population, but currently make up only 45% of public board membership. However, the new legislation sets the benchmark of having females make up a minimum of 50% of non-executive members by 2022.

Ministers and public bodies will also be required to take steps to encourage women to apply for non-executive positions, along with public authorities set to publish reports on progress towards achieving gender balance.

This is one of 3 requests of the Scottish Parliament from campaign group Women 50:50. Their other asks include;

  • Legislated quotes for at least 50% of SP candidates to be women from each party
  • Legislated quotas for at least 50% of Scottish Local Council candidates to be women from each party

Scottish Green Councillor Mary Campbell praised the Parliament’s decision, saying;

“Scotland requiring at least half of boards members to be women is a huge step forward for a moreequal Scotland, and I am excited to see the outcome of more diverse boards across the country.”

“As we have seen from recent high profile sexual harassment cases, there is still a lot to be done tomake work environments better for women, and I hope this is a big step along the road.”


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