Women-only Scottish cabinet event

Angela Constance and Shona Robison Angela Constance [left] and Shona Robison are now full members of the Scottish cabinet

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The Scottish government has announced a women-only Scottish cabinet event to debate issues related to the independence referendum.

The event, which will bring together women from organisations across the country, will take place on 9 June, 100 days before the vote on 18 September.

The battle to win female voters is seen as crucial to the referendum's outcome.

The event will look at issues such as gender equality, female representation on boards and childcare.

It will also examine employment law, and issues of the economy and social justice.

Organisations due to attend include Engender, the Scottish Women's Convention, STUC Scottish Women's Aid, Close the Gap and Rape Crisis Scotland.

Announcing the event, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "This all-women cabinet event sends an important message to women in Scotland: that the Scottish government is serious about ensuring a fair and prosperous society for all and that, following a vote for independence, we want women to have a strong voice in building our future."

Last week, First Minister Alex Salmond promoted two female junior ministers to the full cabinet.

Mr Salmond told delegates at the SNP conference he wanted companies in an independent Scotland to have boards that were 40% female.

In order that his own government "board" met this benchmark, he said Shona Robison, the Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, and Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance would be promoted to the full cabinet.

They are joining Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop at the cabinet table, meaning four of Mr Salmond's 10 cabinet secretaries are women.

Earlier this week, Labour's Margaret Curran pledged a 50% quota of women on public boards and also said she wanted companies to be forced to publish pay differences between male and female workers.

The Shadow Scottish Secretary said Labour in Scotland would introduce 25 hours of childcare a week for every three and 4-year-old and 15 hours a week for all vulnerable two-year-olds.

This measure was in response to the Scottish government's pledge of a massive expansion in childcare under independence, which it says would help women back to work and boost the economy.

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