NICOLA Sturgeon has insisted women “must be at the centre of our plans for recovery” - including a women’s health plan to form part of the SNP’s strategy to rebuild the NHS.

The First Minister was speaking ahead of hustings event hosted by Engender, Scotland’s feminist policy and advocacy organisation – and has pledged to put women front and centre of the country’s strategy to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

Studies have shown that women have been more adversely impacted from the pandemic – with the Covid-19 emergency exposing and exacerbating inequalities.

Ms Sturgeon has committed to ensuring Scotland is a safe place for women and girls if the SNP is returned to power in May – pointing to a multi-year £100 million funding pot to help rollout an equally safe strategy.

She said: “I’m proud to be Scotland’s first female First Minister - but I have always been aware that this comes with huge responsibility.

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“Women have been on the frontline of the battle against Covid-19 - and that means they must be at the centre of our plans for recovery.

“That includes establishing a women’s business centre, backed by £50 million of investment, to unlock the potential of the next generation of female entrepreneurs. “It includes new measures to help women financially at key moments in their life, such as suspending the interest on student loans during maternity leave.”

The First Minister added that included in the SNP’s plans being drawn up for an NHS recovery, the party will “introduce a women’s health plan to tackle some of the health inequalities which have been made worse by the pandemic”.

She added: “And we’ll also continue work to make Scotland a safer place for women and girls to live - with a new multi-year £100 million funding stream over the next three years to back our equally safe strategy, support frontline services, and focus on prevention of male violence against women and girls and education on healthy respectful relationships.

“Finally, as part of our commitment to embed human rights in Scotland, we’ll incorporate into Scots Law the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.”