Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon out to smash glass ceiling

Nicola Sturgeon photo at Bute House Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said tackling inequality was at the heart of everything she did

Scotland's new first minister has said that smashing to "smithereens" the glass ceiling faced by women is an important part of tackling inequality.

Speaking at the annual SNP's women's conference in Ayr, Nicola Sturgeon said she wants to "ensure there are no limits on women's ambitions".

Ms Sturgeon is the first woman to hold the top job in Scottish politics.

Her cabinet is the first in Scotland to have an equal number of men and women.

Since becoming first minister, Ms Sturgeon has also pledged to increase free childcare if she is in power after the 2016 Holyrood elections and made a challenge to businesses and others to ensure half of their board members are female.

The new SNP leader also wants more women in the party to consider getting into frontline politics.

'Achieve anything'

She told delegates at the conference in Ayr that "strong women" such as Margo MacDonald, Winnie Ewing and Margaret Ewing had helped shape the SNP.

Ms Sturgeon added: "As first minister, tackling inequality is at the heart of all I do. Smashing the gender glass ceiling to smithereens is an important part of making progress.

"My simple message to girls and women across Scotland is this: if you are good enough and work hard enough, you can achieve anything.

"As first minister I will work to ensure there are no limits on women's ambitions."

The SNP has also announced that the poet Liz Lochhead, who is Scotland's Makar, has joined the party. The SNP's membership has soared to more than 90,000 since September's independence referendum.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Liz Lochhead has been Scotland's Makar since 2011

Ms Lochhead, who said she had voted for the SNP in the previous "half dozen or so" elections, added: "I've been inspired by Nicola Sturgeon talking about a new style of leadership and a new inclusive type of politics; I think she has a very real chance of achieving that."

Responding to Ms Sturgeon's speech, a Scottish Labour spokesman said: "Women across Scotland want real solutions to the problems they are facing in their lives - that is why they overwhelmingly ejected Nicola Sturgeon's proposals for independence.

"Next year women face a choice between five more years of a Tory government or a Labour government that will improve their lives and their families' lives."