Board members meet for first time.
An expert board tasked with combatting violence against women and gender inequality has met for the first time today.
In a significant step in taking forward the Scottish Government's commitment to tackling violence against women and girls, the Violence Against Women and Girls Joint Strategic Board (JSB) represents 16 different organisations across government, local authority, police, health and the third sector.
Chaired jointly by Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil and Cllr Harry McGuigan from COSLA, the board will ensure early intervention and prevention continue to be a top priority for the organisations involved.
Alex Neil said:
"Gender inequality is both a cause and a consequence of violence against women and girls, and, despite an undoubted shift in attitudes over the years, it is still all too common. The Scottish Government is committed to tackling these inequalities, to create a fair and equal Scotland. This board marks a step change to tackle domestic abuse, prevent sexual assault and all forms of violence against women.
"Everyone has a role to play in making sure this happens. By working together, sharing information and ensuring this issue is at the top of everyone's agenda, we can create real change.
"I hope this board will build on the wealth of knowledge, experience and progress that has gone before in order to provide strong strategic direction."
The board has met following a string of funding announcements to tackle violence against women and girls, in order to continue to push for change and sustain momentum to combat the issue.
In March this year, the First Minister announced £20 million would be invested in a range of measures to tackle all forms of violence against women. This is in addition to another £11.8 million as part of the Scottish Government's equality budget for 2015-16.
Cllr Harry McGuigan, COSLA spokesperson for community well-being, said:
"COSLA is committed to eradicating violence against women and girls and we are pleased to have the Joint Strategic Board in place with strong representation from a range of key stakeholders. We hope the Joint Strategic Board can be bold in its approach and encourage a focus on preventative work.
"We are confident that partners around the table at the Joint Strategic Board can carry this work in a coherent and effective way."
COSLA was also represented by Cllr Mary Montague at the meeting.
The JSB will operate under the Scottish Government and COSLA's Equally Safe strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. Equally Safe states that violence against women and girls has no place in Scotland.
The JSB membership includes:
Neil Rennick Acting Director, Justice Scottish Government
Gary Gillespie Chief Economic Adviser Scottish Government
To be confirmed following appointment of new Chief Constable Police Scotland
Gerry McLaughlin Chief Executive Health Scotland
Lesley Thomson Solicitor General Law Officer Scottish Government
Eric McQueen Chief Executive Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services
Marsha Scott Chief Executive Scottish Women's Aid
Sandy Brindley National Coordinator Rape Crisis Scotland
Jenny Kemp andLaura Tomson Coordinators Zero Tolerance
Emma Ritch Executive Director Engender
Mhairi McGowan Head of Service ASSIST
Alistair Gaw President Social Work Scotland
Kaliani Lyle Scotland Commissioner Equality and Human Rights Commission
Grahame Smith Secretary General STUC
Nancy Lombard Academic Glasgow Caledonian University
Tam Baillie Commissioner Children and Young People Commissioner
Martin Crewe Director Barnardos Scotland