THE newly-created Women's Equality Party has been urged to set out more radical policies after it emerged it plans to stand candidates in next year's Holyrood elections.

Scottish feminist group Engender called for the WEP’s pitch to Scottish voters to be bolder.

WEP official launched in London last week with a call for quotas to deliver gender balance in politics and free childcare for parents whose offspring are older than nine months.

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However, as well as pressure over its policies the WEP appeared to suffer another blow after other parties rejected its offer of a joint ticket.

Reports suggested that the new kid on the political block wanted to run candidates, for example, on a Labour-WEP or SNP-WEP platform.

But other parties dismissed that idea.

Labour said its candidates would stand “for Scottish Labour only", while the SNP said it had already finalised its selections.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats dismissed the idea of joint MSPs as "highly unlikely".

The new group, set up by journalist Catherine Mayer and broadcaster and comedian Sandi Toksvig, plans to contest around half of Scottish Parliament seats in May.

Just six months old the party has 65 branches including in Glasgow and Edinburgh and has attracted 45,000 members and supporters across the UK.

It is understood that is currently fundraising to pay for election campaigns.

Dr Abi Herrmann, branch leader of the party in Edinburgh, said it would “be ideal” to stand in all the major cities in the Sottish Parliament elections next May.

Emma Ritch, the executive director of Engender, said: "We're delighted to see that the creation of the Women's Equality Party has engaged women and men across the UK in campaigning for women's equality. The party has joined Women 50:50 and Women for Independence in energising the discussion about women's place in public and political life.”

She added: “It wouldn't be fair to judge their offer in Scotland before it's finalised, but the relatively timid UK policy platform set out in their launch this week does raise questions about the strategic benefits of standing against candidates from parties whose gender equality commitments may be bolder.”

The decision of the WEP to stand for Holyrood is likely to be seen as a direct challenge to Nicola Sturgeon’s feminist credentials.

Earlier this month, the SNP leader explained why she thought quotas were necessary to speed up the pace of change in politics, saying: "I don’t want my nine-year-old niece to still be fighting these battles... I don’t believe it is good for any of us to underuse the talents of 50 per cent of the population.”

But opposition politicians have accused her of image over substance.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has called for feminists, not just women, to be in positions of political power, in what was widely perceived as a criticism of Ms Sturgeon.

WEP also intends to stand in other elections next year, including local elections and, potentially, for London mayor.

Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: "At least 50 per cent of Scottish Labour's new candidates will be women and we are proud to have the third female Scottish Labour Leader in Kezia Dugdale. We are committed to securing gender equality not just in the Scottish Parliament, but for women all across the country."

At the formal launch of the party last week representatives called for free childcare for parents of all children aged more than nine months and political quotas at the next two general elections to achieve a gender-balanced Westminster parliament by 2025.

The party also called for quotas for the number of women on boards and for the abolition of the married tax allowance, with the money saved to be reinvested in rape crisis centres.