Tag Archives: Gender Discrimination

Need for equal gender opportunities in the Scottish Parliament’s weekly ‘Time for Reflection’

Former MSP for Dunfermline, Bill Walker, pictured right, with Rev Martin Scott and  Mrs Scott at the Scottish Parliament prior to Rev Scott’s contribution to Time for Reflection at the Scottish Parliament 28 January 2014. Source http://www.billwalkerdunfermline.com

The weekly four minute ‘Time for Reflection’ (TFR) in the Scottish Parliament is meant to reflect the diversity of religion and belief in Scotland by having contributions from a wide range of different denominations and philosophies roughly in accordance with their population support. Unfortunately, as ESS Honorary President, Professor Norman Bonney, recently argued in the Scottish Parliament, this approach to equal opportunities in religion has worked at cross purposes with the Parliament’s commitment to equal gender opportunities.

Prof Steve Bruce and Dr Marta Trzebiatowska (Aberdeen University) have demonstrated that women are significantly more religious than men (‘Why are women more religious than men? Oxford University Press 2012). Yet only 30 per cent of contributions to TFR are from women.

This disparity highlights the fact that most religious denominations, despite having a majority of women members, tend to be dominated by men. Some well known denominations even exclude women from their priesthood. The Scottish Government now has a target of 40 per cent for women on its cabinet and on public boards. Perhaps the Scottish Parliament, which falls short by this standard in TFR, should aim higher with a target of 50 or 60 per cent female contributors to remedy female disadvantage in many sects.

And should the Scottish Parliament consider disallowing participation in TFR by denominations that exclude women from their priesthood in order to demonstrate a strong commitment to equal opportunities for women? Otherwise it looks as though it is conniving with, or accepting of, the grosser gender inequalities to be found in some denominations.