THE two men vying to lead Scottish Labour have pledged to do more for women in the party.

Conscious of the gender imbalance in the contest, centrist MSP Anas Sarwar and Left-winger Richard Leonard both promised to increase female representation.

Mr Sarwar said he would ensure party rules were changed to deliver a “gender-balanced deputy leadership” with two deputies, at least one of whom was always be a woman.

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Along with the leader, the deputies would play a key role in party campaigns and sit on the ruling executive committee.

The move would conveniently dilute the power of the existing deputy, the pro-Corbyn MSP Alex Rowley, who is closer to Mr Leonard than Mr Sarwar.

Mr Sarwar also pledged 50:50 gender balance on Labour’s shadow cabinet and at least half of parliamentary candidates being women.

He also promised steps to tackle workplace segregation and the gender pay gap; auditing laws and spending decisions for their impact on women; and a drive to incorporate the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women into Scots Law.

He said: “I want Labour to be at the vanguard of the fight for gender equality in society across Scotland. I want inequality to be a problem of the past.”

Mary Fee, chair of the Scottish Labour Parliamentary Group, added: “Anas has always fought against inequality and this is a clear demonstration of his commitment to promoting gender equality within Scottish Labour and wider society.”

Mr Leonard said he would ensure at least half of Labour candidates were women, with an “annual training academy to develop a more diverse group of candidates”.

Announcing the initiative with campaign vice chair Monica Lennon, he said: "Over 20 years ago, I was one of those in Labour who helped lead the way on women's representation by introducing all women shortlists. It took the SNP until 2016 to catch up.

“If we are serious about changing society, we need to be prepared to change our own practices and outlook. This change needs to come from the ground up so that we are making the full use of the skills and abilities of Labour party members.

The party should be investing in a diverse range of candidates. This training and support network will be aimed at women, LGBT members, the BME community and disabled members to ensure we are opening our doors to talented individuals, and that our candidates are as diverse as the electorate.”