Meeting the gender equality duty in services
Women and men often have different needs from services, and use them in different ways. There may also be different groups of men and of women who have specific needs or face particular barriers in taking up services. Understanding and tackling these barriers will put public authorities at the forefront of good practice in accessible public service delivery, meaning public services really are available to everyone.
There are some groups of women and men who are not traditionally thought of as service users, such as prisoners, asylum seekers or migrants. As they may be particularly vulnerable or dependent on the actions of public authorities, it is important not to overlook them when deciding priority services for action under the duty.
To meet the gender duty in service delivery and design, public authorities will need to check the available information on who is using their services. They may want to consider:
Is the information disaggregated by sex?
Do women and men use the service in different ways?
Do women and men have different needs from the service?
Are there particular groups of women or of men (for example, disabled women, or men from particular ethnic groups) who do not use or under-use a service or who are less satisfied with it?
Is there evidence that a one-size-fits-all service is not appropriate?
Are there big discrepancies in the service outcomes by sex?
In response to the Irish National Development Plan commitment to mainstream gender equality in all programmes and projects, Dublin Buses surveyed non-users as well as users in order to identify unmet needs. The results were used to develop a number of pilots. Women make multiple trips on public transport facilities, bringing children to school or care, shopping, visiting older or sick relatives, as well as travelling to work. For men, the main journey is commuting to the workplace. There are specific factors (such as income and caring responsibilities) that limit women’s transport choices and therefore entry into the labour market, education and training opportunities as well as leisure opportunities. The pilots focused on the afternoon period of 2-6pm when Dublin Buses had spare capacity. The pilots:
- extended existing bus routes
- provided cheaper multi - trip fares
- targeted women and older people
There was excellent take up of the new routes (35% increase in usage) particularly by older women. There was also an increase in city centre economic activity (13% in 2002) that was believed to be directly linked to the increasing numbers of people coming into the city centre during the day.
Men's take-up of primary health care services is generally lower than that of women, resulting in later diagnosis of problems, greater risks for their health and greater cost to the health service. The Bradford Health of Men (HOM) Healthy Living Initiative project is a 5-year Big Lottery