Women 'still face barriers in the workplace' but situation improving - Youth Employment Minister.

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Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance said while women "still face barriers in the workplace" the situation was improving during a debate entitled Women and Work on 3 December 2013.

Ms Constance said female employment was up 3.2% and underemployment down 2.9% in Scotland in the last year.

The minister added that the many initiatives to address the balance of women in the workplace was "not just about getting more women into STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) jobs. It's crucial we value all the work women do, paid and unpaid."

However, Scottish Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale claimed her party would be much bolder on the issue and the independence White Paper "so far has failed to capture the imagination of women".

One of the main policies in the government's independence White Paper was thirty hours of childcare per week in term time for all three and four-year-olds, as well as vulnerable two-year-olds.

Launching his government's independence blueprint, First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Our proposals will make it far easier for parents to balance work and family life and will allow many more people, especially women, to move into the workforce, fostering economic growth and helping to boost revenues - which will in itself help pay for the policy."

Opposition parties insisted the Scottish government could and should act now on childcare as the issue is devolved.

Ms Dugdale proposed the amendment that the Scottish Parliament should not just address "the lack of affordable, flexible childcare and that, among other issues, caring responsibilities, low pay and equal pay and tackling occupational segregation are just as important."

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