March is Women's History Month, and 8 March is International Women's Day. In honour of both occasions, we will be publishing blogs by our members throughout the month, describing how their work supports women and girls.
This week, Greig Walker – Bill Team Leader of the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) Bill – talks to us about being part of the Scottish Government's (SG) Violence against Women and Girls & Barnahus Justice Unit. He also tells us about being an FDA rep, and how his union work helps inform his day-to-day work – and vice versa.
I’m a member of the FDA Scottish Government Branch Executive Committee who jointly leads on equalities for the branch, together with Jules Goodlet-Rowley. In November 2018, I joined the Scottish Government Violence against Women and Girls and Barnahus Justice Unit to head a new Bill Team. I have a personal interest in equalities via my membership of the SG LGBTI Network Committee and my participation in TUC and STUC LGBT+ Conferences. This has given me particular insight into the experiences of women who are lesbian, bi and/or trans. Branch and wider FDA colleagues are able to guide me on their experiences of other protected characteristics and intersectionality issues.
My team recently launched our consultation paper ‘Equally Safe: A consultation on Legislation to improve forensic medical services for victims of rape and sexual assault’ which can be tracked via Twitter channel @EquallySafeScot and #EquallySafeFMS. The consultation seeks views from health and justice organisations, medical professionals, the third sector and survivors. The Equally Safe strategy, published in 2014 and updated in 2016, is Scotland's strategy to take action on all forms of violence against women and girls. Equally Safe's vision is of a strong and flourishing Scotland where all individuals are equally safe and respected, and where women and girls live free from all forms of violence and abuse – and the attitudes that help perpetuate it – whilst providing equal access to services and support for men and boys.
One of the things I’m particularly proud of in the consultation is our commitment to take a human rights-based approach to the development of a Bill, in line with the recommendations of the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership. Amongst other things, a human rights-based approach means having regard to all human rights set out in international human rights treaties and facilitating the participation of people affected by policy changes. It means building on and looking beyond compliance with the civil and political rights in the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 to encompass economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
It's generally understood that men have an important part to play in tackling gender-based violence and sex discrimination and I’m pleased to make my contribution, both within my Unit and within my FDA branch. International Women’s Day is an important call to action for accelerating gender equality and I hope readers are interested to hear about my Unit’s important work in Scotland and how my knowledge in this area can in turn help me in my role as an FDA rep.