It is easy to find a wide variety of data and information to assess effectively how certain actions will affect women and men.
How the gender equality duty fits into the broader equality picture
Women and men, including transsexual women and men, will experience different forms of disadvantage depending on their age, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, and whether or not they have a disability. In order to understand and address questions of gender equality under the duty, public authorities may need to consider that complexity and whether particular groups of women or men are experiencing particular disadvantages.
Only 47% of disabled women are in employment, compared with 53% of disabled men. Of the disabled women in employment, only 52% work full-time. This compares with an employment rate of 75% for non-disabled women and 86% for non-disabled men. (EOC Facts about women and men in Great Britain 2005)
The gender equality duty is similar to the existing duties on race and disability equality and all three have the same spirit and intention behind them, requiring public authorities to take action to tackle discrimination, to prevent harassment, and to ensure that their work promotes equality of opportunity across all their functions. The gender equality duty has fewer requirements to set up processes than the race duty, however, in order to ensure that public authorities focus on the achievement of outcomes.
The gender equality scheme, which is a requirement for listed public authorities under the specific duties, can be published as part of an overall equality scheme, covering the requirements of all three duties. There are, however, slight differences in the requirements of the three duties. Public authorities which choose to take the overall equality scheme approach must ensure that they clearly meet the requirements of the gender equality duty, including specific objectives on gender equality. The scheme should show clearly and specifically which elements of the overall equality scheme refer to gender equality.
Which organisations have to take action on the general duty?
S76A Sex Discrimination Act (margin note)
The general duty applies to all functions of every public authority (bar the exceptions listed in Appendix B). The definition of a public authority is 'any person who has functions of a public nature’. Despite a slight difference in the wording, this is the same approach as the definition of public authorities covered by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Human Rights Act 1998.
Because the duty is based on this definition, public authorities covered by the general gender duty are not individually listed. The duty would apply to all of the authorities listed in Schedule 1A to the amended Race Relations Act 1976. Further details on the definition of a public authority are contained in Appendix A.
The gender duty can also apply directly to certain private or voluntary sector bodies when they are carrying out public functions (the private functions of such bodies being excluded). Further details of who is affected by this are contained in Appendix A.