First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today claim in a speech that the country is "potentially at a tipping point" with gender equality.

Nicola Sturgeon whose cabinet is split equally with five men and five women including herself, will make the statement as part of her keynote address to the Who Runs the World? conference organised by the Women5050 campaign in Edinburgh today.

The First Minister will confirm that the SNP will "consult and bring forward" legislation within a year, if re-elected, to support gender balance on public sector boards.

The First Minister will say: "Scotland is potentially at a tipping point in relation to gender equality. Social attitudes have progressed significantly here, as they are doing in many countries around the world. We currently have a Scottish Parliament where the Presiding Officer, and the leaders of the three largest parties, are all female. We also have a gender balanced Cabinet.

"Three years ago we joined with businesses and trade unions to launch a major campaign to boost female employment, and it's one reason why the most recent statistics from EuroStat - released just a couple of weeks ago - noted that Scotland's female employment rate is the second highest in the European Union.

"We are currently talking to the Equality and Human Rights Commission about how to encourage employers to provide better help and support for women who return to work from pregnancy.

"We are also committed to gender balance on public sector boards by 2020. Creative Scotland and Scottish Canals have already reached that target - five years ahead of schedule. The vast majority of public bodies have committed to doing so.

"However I firmly believe that we should embed the commitment to a more diverse and gender balanced board membership. So following the passage of the Scotland Bill, I can confirm that if re-elected the SNP will consult and bring forward legislation on gender balance in public sector boards in the first year of the next parliament.

"We will also step up our efforts to work with the private sector.

"The outcome of the Davis review has been a call for companies on the FTSE 100 to have a board membership that is 33% female by 2020. That strikes me as unambitious. If the public sector can aim for 50% then I believe the private sector can too."