FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has endorsed the Scottish Women’s Covenant on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which enters into force on January 22 as the first nuclear disarmament treaty to acknowledge that women are disproportionately affected by nuclear weapons and insists that their voices must be heard within disarmament negotiations.

The covenant, initiated by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, is founded on the knowledge that the risks to women’s health and reproductive capacity from ionising radiation are greater than for men, while current power structures mean that women are routinely excluded from nuclear disarmament negotiations.

Nicola Sturgeon said: “I share the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s (WILPF) opposition to nuclear weapons – they are morally, strategically and economically wrong. They are indiscriminate and devastating in their impacts; their use would bring unspeakable humanitarian suffering and widespread environmental damage. The Scottish Government is firmly opposed to the possession, threat and use of nuclear weapons and we are committed to pursuing the safe and the complete withdrawal of all nuclear weapons from Scotland.

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“While the Scottish Government is unable to become a Party to the Treaty, as First Minister I strongly support the principles of the Treaty and the work of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. An independent Scotland would be a keen signatory and I hope the day we can do that is not far off.

“The Scottish Government has called repeatedly on the UK Government to cancel its plans for the Dreadnought programme (the Trident successor programme) as nuclear weapons do not provide a meaningful deterrent to modern-day threats such as terrorist attacks, and there are no realistic short or medium-term threats which justify the possession, the costs or the potential use of Trident and its successor.

“Women have always played an important role in the opposition to nuclear weapons, and it is vital that women are included when these issues are discussed internationally.

“The Scottish Government thanks and congratulates all the states which have ratified the treaty; we look forward to the treaty coming in to force and will monitor developments with interest.”

In addition to the First Minister, Scottish WILPF’s Covenant has so far been endorsed by Women for Indy, Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), United Nations House Scotland (UNHS), WILPF UK, Scottish members of Soroptimist International, and others, including Scottish MPs and MSPs.

The final list of those endorsing on January 22 will be sent to Isha Sesay, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund to help the fight against violence against women and girls, who was appointed on the first of this year’s 16 days campaign; Setsuko Thurlow, as the atomic survivor and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace prize that was awarded to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons for its contribution to the treaty, and Lynn Jamieson, WILPF member and chair of Scottish CND, who also commented: “The use and threatened use of nuclear weapons is the ultimate obscenity in gender violence.

“The UK habit of justifying nuclear weapons is rooted in the historical conflation of leadership with a chauvinistic masculinity.”