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To assess the impact of its current and proposed policies and practices on gender equality.

To implement the actions set out in its scheme within three years, unless it is unreasonable or impracticable to do so.

To report against the scheme every year and review the scheme at least every three years.

1.16.

The first scheme must be published by 30 April 2007.  For more detail on these specific duties and how to meet them, see Chapter 3.   

1.17.

This document contains guidance on how to meet both the general and the specific duties in Chapters 2 and 3.  Even if a public authority is not subject to the specific duties (such as public authorities operating solely in Wales), it will still be expected to provide clear evidence of meeting the general duty.  The specific duties laid out in Chapter 3 can act as a framework to assist authorities in complying with the general duty.  

Why has the gender equality duty been introduced?

1.18.

The gender equality duty aims to make gender equality central to the way that public authorities work, in order to create:

better-informed decision-making and policy development

a clearer understanding of the needs of service users

better-quality services which meet varied needs

more effective targeting of policy and resources

better results and greater confidence in public services

a more effective use of talent in the workforce.

1.19.

The duty is intended to address the fact that, despite 30 years of individual legal rights to sex equality, there is still widespread discrimination sometimes intentional, sometimes unintentional and persistent gender inequality.  Policies and practices that seem neutral can have a significantly different effect on women and on men, often contributing to greater gender inequality and poor policy outcomes.  Individual legal rights have not been enough by themselves to change this.

1.20.

The duty is intended to improve this situation, both for men and for women, for boys and for girls.  Gender roles and relationships structure men’s and women’s lives.  Women are frequently disadvantaged by policies and practices that do not recognise their greater caring responsibilities, the different pattern of their working lives, their more limited access to resources and their greater vulnerability to domestic violence and sexual assault.  Men are also disadvantaged by workplace cultures that do not support their family or childcare responsibilities, by family services that assume they have little or no role in parenting, or by health services which do not recognise their different needs.  Both sexes suffer from stereotyping of their roles and needs.  The duty should help the public sector, and those working with it, to identify and respond to stereotyping, sex discrimination and sexism, resulting in improvements for all.    

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