To meet the duty effectively, public authorities must ensure that they have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment against either women or men, (and, in employment and vocational training - including further and higher education - against transsexual men and women) and that their policies are not maintaining or leading to gender inequality. To assist public authorities to do this, it is recommended that they should:
collect evidence on the impact of core policies on women and men
when new policies are being developed, assess their likely consequences for women and men
alter or amend proposed policies so that they have due regard to the need to promote gender equality and eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment
resource the above changes appropriately.
Conducting impact assessments on policies is a useful way of demonstrating that public authorities have had due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment and to promote equality of opportunity when developing policy. It is also a legal requirement if a public authority is subject to the specific duties. Even for those public authorities which are not, however, it can be a useful tool for meeting the duty. For more detail on conducting gender impact assessments, see Chapter 3.
The best way to find out if a policy is likely to have a negative or a positive impact on gender equality is to:
find out if research or data already exist, and if so, analyse and apply it
take action to develop relevant information if it does not exist
ask and involve external and internal stakeholders, such as women’s and men’s voluntary sector groups, service user and consumer groups, trade unions and employee or staff networks.
Going through this process brings significant benefits to the effectiveness of policymaking. Developing a good base of evidence about differences in the impact of policies on women and men will avoid resources being misdirected and potentially wasted.
Women's current and future entitlement to pensions is significantly lower than men's. The DWP produced a report 'Women and Pensions – The Evidence' that specifically investigated the gender differences in pension provision between men and women. It showed that only 24% of recently retired women were entitled to a full Basic State Pension in their own right. Even when looking at working-age women, 2.2 million women are not building up rights to even the Basic State Pension.
Women's greater likelihood of undertaking unpaid parenting and caring commitments, and the subsequent impact on their ability to engage in paid employment, were identified as the key causes of the gender differences.
The subsequent DWP White Paper 'Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system' put forward several changes to the recognition of unpaid caring work within the state pension system that will mean for the first time paid work and unpaid care will be equally recognised within the state pension system.
This will benefit not just women, but also the increasing number of men undertaking unpaid care and help produce a pensions system that fully reflects working lives both now and in the future.