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How the UK Government Has Promoted Gender Equality

Updated on January 25, 2022
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Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics.

In UK, legislation concerning equality, particularly issues pertaining to gender equality is well established. These laws are on provision of goods and services, issues related to employment, and pay structure. The Sex Discrimination Act of (1975) and the Equal Pay Act of (1970) are among the key legislations in force. Other type of legislation that are meant to ensure equality are the Flexible Working Regulations (2003), Pay and Paternity Leave Regulations (2003) and Maternity Leave Regulations (1975).

Interestingly, gender stereotyping is still an extant phenomenon in Britain. This is despite the fact that a number of women have reported not experiencing sex bias. This owes to the fact that majority of women are no longer concerned on fighting equality battles; rather, they are focused on fighting practical problems which they face in their lives.

Gender Discrimination Laws

The Sex Discrimination Act established in (1975) is meant to prevent discrimination based on gender. This prohibition is in the area of education, employment, facilities and services as well as provision of goods. The Equal Pay Act established in (1970) gives all individuals irrespective of gender, the same benefits and pay. The same expectations are also extended to employment. On the other hand, the Pay and Maternity Leave Regulations (1975) mandates women to be given pay and leave for up to 12 months and is applicable once a person has been given placement. Finally, there is Regulation on Flexible Working (2003) accords employees the statutory right in asking for working patterns that are flexible. This includes reduced working hours, working from home or altering work schedule for those with young children (Hugh et al 2005, p.33).

Employment Discrimination in UK

According to, O’Cinneide, (2007 p.41) there is a “worrying gap” between men and women especially in managerial position for many countries. These sentiments concurred with the findings by O’Cinneide on the Current Employment Gap in UK. The study, which included 1,028 respondents established that 47 percent of women believed that women discrimination in the workplaces was rife. Only 37 percent of these respondents stated that women were being treated equally. Further, 38 percent of women in this study pointed out that they had encountered sexist behavior or remarks in the workplaces. This included physical contact and indecent assault.

Steele (2013,p11) explains that despite UK women having made significant strides in employment, they have remained concentrated in low paying jobs such as secretary and care services. The office for the National Statistics stipulates that two thirds of women (67%) within the age group of 16-64 are currently in work. Anti-discrimination legislation, as well as the shifting of economy from male dominated endeavors to services have driven this progress. Moreover, most of the works that are dominated by women are mostly undervalued and underpaid.

Despite the narrowing of pay gap between women and men to 10%, women have continued to dominate low paying jobs. For instance, the ONS stipulates that 82 percent of workers in leisure, caring and other services are women. In addition 77 percent of secretarial and administration workers are female. This includes even those who classify themselves as professionals. For these people, the ONS has still identified gender differences in terms of pay. For instance, women nurses were paid relatively lower than their men counterparts (Wedderburn, 2006).

Government Endeavors to Fight Gender Discrimination in Employment

The government of UK claims to be working hard towards a realization of a fairer society. According to its website on policy, the government strives to reduce discrimination and improve equality both in political, social and economic life. One of the endeavors considered by the UK government to combat employment discrimination is implementation of equality legislation. One of these legislations is the Equality Act 2010, which reflects a number of EU directives. These directives include but not limited to the Directive on Equal Treatment for gender, Directive on General Framework for Equal Treatment on Occupation and Employment and the Directive on Racial Equality. Updates on these directives are automatically implemented, as required by EU legislation and European Court of Justice.

The government has tried to prevent gender discrimination by finding the Human Rights and Equality Commission, as well as ensuring that its operations are smooth. The government monitors its operations, and appointing its management board. In addition, it also offers advice, information and support on gender discrimination through the advisory and Equality and Support Services.

The rights of women are protected through

Helping them to attain their potential in workplaces

  • Providing women entrepreneurs obtain full economic benefit from their skills. This includes the Think, Report and Act, Women on Boards, and the Women on Boards.
  • The government also ensures that the government considers the interests of women. It does this through conducting regular meetings by campaigners, women groups and other interest groups across the country.
  • Providing grants to women who want to set up or improve on this business.

The government also established the Equality Strategy in 2010. This strategy is focused at building a fairer Britain. This stipulates the government’s commitment to equality based on Equality Act of 2010.

This strategy is focused at

  • Changing attitudes and culture
  • Dealing with Causes of Inequality
  • Building a cohesive and fairer society where everyone is equal.

This strategy has created a new role for the government, promoting equality through behavior and attitude change. It has also promoted transparency within its employment systems as well as those of private entities. Further, the strategy is aimed at encouraging the wider society in creating equal employment opportunities for all.

All individuals living and working in UK are expected to be treated equally by the state and other citizens. All workers are entitled to the same pay irrespective of whether they come from other countries. Women are also expected to be accorded similar treatment as men. This is also the same with the kind of work with work matters.


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