Delegates at the SNP spring conference have backed a move to allow all-female shortlists in the Scottish Parliament election next year.

An amendment to the party's policy on the selection of candidates was put to a vote at the event in Glasgow, attended by around 3,000 activists.

It will allow the party's national executive committee to direct constituency branches to submit an all-female shortlist in the event of a constituency MSP standing down.

In a situation with multiple candidates, at least one must be a woman and the committee will have the power to add people to shortlists to achieve this, the amendment states.

The committee will also be able to balance the number of men and women submitted as candidates for regional list rankings.

The party's national women's officer Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh said: "Women represent 52% of the population in Scotland, yet for too long have been massively under-represented in Scottish public life.

"And while the SNP has made some progress in our selection of candidates for the general election, it was always clear that more action needed to be taken.

"Today's move will enable our party to take reasonable and sensible action to ensure gender equality amongst our candidates - and to guarantee that there are no longer any barriers to women playing a full role in the political process."

The changes faced opposition from some within the party who argue that selection should be made on merit alone.