engage magazine issue 002 \\\\\\\'06 - Page 50

Department for Communities & Local Government Going public with Gender Equality “The public sector gender duty – which will require all public authorities to tackle discrimination and ensure equality of opportunity – will be a vital step forward in bringing about change.” Ruth Kelly, Communities Secretary and Minister for Women G ender equality just took another step forward. Thirty years after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act, the Government has said that, from April 2007, all public authorities will have to actively promote equality of opportunity rather than just prevent discrimination. It has been described as the biggest advancement in sex equality for over 30 years. From next year, public authorities will be under a general duty to have “due regard” to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment and promote equality of opportunity between men and women in all their public functions. Some public authorities will also have to satisfy a series of specific duties. Basically, these are the positive steps that they have to take to ensure they achieve the general duty. Similar to the public sector duties on race and disability, the gender specific duties will centre around “gender equality schemes” and “gender equality objectives” that the public authority decides to work on over a three-year period. The steps will include carrying out impact assessments to determine whether a particular policy, service or employment practice has a disproportionate effect on women or men. If it does, then the authority has to find out what is causing it and then do something about it by, for instance, setting equality goals and outcomes, publishing action plans and collecting statistics. Before doing any of this however, public authorities have to consult their employees and other stakeholders, such as unions, consumers, voluntary and community sectors. This applies particularly when drawing up the gender equality objectives or assessing the impact of a particular policy or service. Transparency and openness are key to the success of the process. Given the restraints on resources in the public sector, the Government will rely more and more on the expertise and knowledge of the voluntary and community sectors. Ideally, therefore, they should be involved from an early stage in the consultation process. But who exactly has to comply with the duty? A public authority is defined in the Equality Act 2006 (which introduced the gender duty) as including “any person who has functions of a public nature”. This definition includes authorities such as health providers, education, local government and the police. But anyone providing a public service such as charities, voluntary and private sector organisations will also be included. And organisations that provide goods or services to the public sector such as catering and cleaning companies could be asked, where relevant, to Ёѡȁ́Ʌѥ́ѼɔѡЁѡ䁍丁=ٕɅѡȁՅ䁑ݥՉѡɥѥ́Ёɕ́ѡ٥Յ́ݽͼѡ()ѡ͕٥́ѡɽ٥ɔѕȁхɝѕɔɕͥٔ%ɸѡЁ͡ձѼɕѕȁѽȁͅѥ͙ѥ ЁՉ͕ѽȁ啕́ͼхѼ́ѡɥѥ́ɽՍɔՅ䁽չ䁙ȁхѼɔѥٔՉ͕٥Qɔɔ͔䁽Չѡɥѥ́ѡЁٔɕ䁥ѕፕЁȁՅɅѥ̸ѡ՝ѡٕɹЁ́Ё݅ЁѡѼ́ѡ՝܁ɽ͕́ɔ͕ѡѡѥٔѼɔѡЁѡ䁅ɔ她ݥѠѡٕɅɍѥ́ѡ܁ȁ丁Uѥѕ䰁ѡ͡ձՉѡɥѥ́ѼɕȀͥ䁽ѡȤՅ䁍ͥɅѥ́Ѽѡȁͥ́ɽ͕͕́٥ٕ䁽䁉䁑䁉̸ͥQ܁ݥɍѡ ͥȁՅ䁅!յÌݡ͕́ɕ=ѽȁЁ啅Ȥ%Ёѡ́ѡЁՉѡɥ䁥́Ё她ЁՔѥɕեɥѡѼͼ%ѡЁ́ЁٔѡͥɕаЁѡ́ѡݕȁѼ䁙ȁЁɑȸ%Ё́ȰѡɕɔѡЁѡٕɹЁ͕́ɥ́ЁɥЁ ѡЁ́ɕѥЁ́ЁѡЁѡ܁䁍Ё́ѡɬѡЁݥѼȁՅ䁉䁙Ёȁ()%MMUQ]<؁((0