SCOTLAND’S next first minister will need to go “further and faster” when it comes to progress on gender equality, campaigners have warned.

More than a dozen leading women’s organisations have compiled a list of key asks for all three SNP leadership candidates, which include protecting abortion rights, taking action on the cost of living crisis, working to prevent violence against women and girls and making culture and public life “fairer and safer”.

In a letter published to mark International Women’s Day, the contenders Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf are being urged to build on the progress made by Nicola Sturgeon on increasing investment and a greater focus on gender equality and human rights.

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But it adds: “Our next first minister will need to go further and at a faster rate.

“This will be crucial to address the major challenges we face and secure the progress Scotland needs: addressing the cost-of-living crisis, protecting and realising human rights, building inclusive, sustainable economic growth, healthier and safer communities and a just transition to a fairer, greener future.”

The letter has been signed by representatives from Zero Tolerance, Close the Gap, Women 50:50, The Young Women’s Movement, Elect Her, Engender, Amina: Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, Scottish Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Budget Group, Scottish Women’s Convention, Scottish Women’s Rights Centre, Rape Crisis Scotland, Equate Scotland and Women’s Enterprise Scotland. 

It highlights a series of statistics which show despite progress made, there “remains much more to do”.

Women make up 60% of those who warn under the Living Wage, while rape and attempted rape have the lowest conviction rate of any crime.

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One in four women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and it is the single biggest driver of women’s and children’s homelessness.

Women account for less than a quarter - 22% - of major newspaper editors, just 7% of top business CEOs, less than half - 46% - of MSPs and just over a third - 35% - of local councillors.

“We believe that the inequality these statistics represent can change and that Scotland has the potential to be one of the safest, most equitable and inspiring countries in the world for women,” the letter adds.