THIS year’s International Human Rights Day, which falls today, is an opportunity to reflect on the hard-won rights we all take for granted and a perpetual reminder of our duty to respect, protect, and fulfil human rights as part of our everyday lives.

A clear way the Scottish Government is promoting and protecting the rights of people across the country is by using our devolved powers to deliver Scotland’s newest public service – our new social security system, which is based on dignity, fairness and respect.

To deliver social security in Scotland, we are we taking a human-rights based approach. Unlike the UK Government, we are proactively promoting our benefits to people in Scotland who may need them.

For too long, there has been stigma around applying for benefits. It has been viewed as something embarrassing or shameful. Our progressive new system is fighting to change this outdated attitude.

​READ MORE: Borders Bill: 145,000 people sign petition urging rethink on citizenship clause

To qualify for some devolved benefits, people must be receiving certain UK benefits such as Universal Credit. So I would call on the UK Government to take a more proactive approach to promoting their benefits to ensure people get all of the money they are entitled to.

When we first set out to create our new service, we listened to the views of people with experience of the existing UK system.

They told us how often they found applying for benefits to be “complicated”. We have worked to improve the ways in which people can apply for benefits.

We understand that one size does not fit all and that’s why we provide people with options – they can choose whether to apply for benefits online, by post, over the phone or face to face.

We have also committed to investing £10 million over this parliament to increase access to advice services in a range of accessible settings to maximise incomes, tackle the poverty penalty and improve wellbeing.

We know that poverty prevents people from achieving their full potential and as long as it exists, we will not achieve a fair and equal society.

That’s why we introduced the “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment. It is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken anywhere in the UK. And we recently announced the payment would be doubled next year.

READ MORE: Here are the five cruellest parts of the Tory 'anti-refugee bill'

From April 2022, 111,000 children under six will immediately benefit from £20 per week. This will be rolled out to children under the age of 16 by the end of 2022, subject to getting the data we need to do so from the Department from Work and Pensions.

Investing in a child’s early years can lift young people out of poverty – these interventions are essentials we build the strongest foundation for our shared future.

We want Scotland to be a place where people are healthier, happier and treated with respect, and where opportunities, wealth and power are spread more equally.

And in my view, one of the main ways we can achieve equality in Scottish society is by investing in and delivering a kind, compassionate and progressive social security system – something that we are proud and protective of, just like we are of our NHS, a service that will provide people with financial support for generations to come.