INCREASING the proportion of women on public boards will help them “make better decisions”, the Equalities Secretary has said.

Angela Constance was speaking in a Stage 1 debate at Holyrood on a proposed law to boost the number of women in Scotland’s public boardrooms.

The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill sets an objective that women should make up at least half of non-executive public board members by 2022.

If passed it will apply to colleges, universities and some public bodies including health boards, enterprise agencies, the Scottish Police Authority and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. At its heart this bill is about equality for women, who represent 51.5 per cent of the population yet only 45 per cent of regulated ministerial public appointments

“It’s about this Parliament using the powers it that has to deliver a fairer and more equal Scotland. Women’s voices need to be heard and they need to be part of the decisions that are made in Scotland’s boardrooms,” said Constance.

“I believe that boards that reflect Scotland’s communities will make better decisions for Scotland’s communities.”

The minister said the bill would act as a “catalyst” to encourage more diversity in other areas such as race and help tackle underlying attitudes perpetuating violence against women.