The government has announced a “roadmap” initiative to address gender inequality and empower women of all ages “from school to retirement”.
The report, entitled “Gender equality at every stage: a roadmap for change” identifies a number of key issues on which the government will act, such as:
- Tackling gender stereotyping in schools, in the media and advertising by publishing research and providing practical advice on engaging men and boys on gender issues
- Taking action to close the gender pay gap by mainstreaming gender equality, enhancing the service for employers reporting on the pay gap and launching a national campaign to help employees balance work and care
- Taking measures to ensure that working age benefits such as Universal Credit work better for women
- Improving access to information for parents on how to manage work and parenting responsibilities and consulting on increasing the transparency of parental leave and pay policies
- Consulting on dedicated employment rights for carers, such as carers’ leave, so that women (who provide more informal care and unpaid work than men) can remain in the labour market
- Helping people to return to work after taking time out for caring through returners’ grants and re-skilling for older workers
To ensure women are safe in the workplace, the government is also taking forward measures to tackle sexual harassment - shortly launching a consultation to ensure legislation is up to scratch. This will include strengthening and clarifying the laws on third party harassment, exploring whether protections need to be extended to interns and volunteers, and examining whether the three-month time limit for workplace discrimination and harassment cases needs to be extended.
Sitting alongside the plan, an annual Gender Equality Monitor will bring together metrics from across government to monitor important gender equality issues in the UK and help hold all parties, including government, to account. An interactive tool to make the data more accessible will be launched next year.
Matthew Pull, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: “Any steps taken to raise the profile of and then address issues of gender inequality are of course always welcome. However, with Brexit and its fallout set to dominate the political landscape for the foreseeable future, and with a change in Prime Minister imminent, it remains to be seen how many of the issues/actions identified in the Government’s report are given the full and proper consideration/implementation that they deserve.
"As with any such report, its value or otherwise has to be judged by the subsequent actions taken to address the concerns identified, and the Government’s track record in this respect isn’t great. The clear and obvious failure within the gender pay gap reporting legislation to require employers to set out practical steps they intend to take to address any pay gaps identified is a clear example of this.”
The gender equality roadmap and the gender equality monitor can both be found on the government's website.