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Gender Equality Duty Welcomed

6 April, 2007

Sinn Féin Equality spokesperson, Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has welcomed the news that the Gender Equality Duty comes into force today, Friday 6th April 2007.

Ms Anderson said

"I welcome today's introduction of the gender equality duty, which will place a requirement on employers in the public sector to address sex discrimination, promote gender equality and to provide information and consult with unions.

"Public sector employers must demonstrate that they are promoting equality for women and men and that they are eliminating sexual discrimination and harassment. They will also have to think about policies they develop and the services they deliver with the different needs of women and men in mind.

"While the implementation of the gender equality duty is step in the right direction we must go further in our pursuit of equal rights and levels of pay for women which still lag behind their male colleagues.

"This duty coming into force 'today' is apt given that one of the 9 categorises of Section 75 of the Good Friday Agreement identify gender as one of the anti-discrimination measure. This move cannot be seen in isolation, we must also challenge employers in the private sector to introduce similar measures on pay scales and working conditions. They must set targets and timescales for achieving equality of representation for women.

"It is totally unacceptable that in 2007 that we are still blighted with severe inequalities. While the people at the top of the social ladder continue to capitalise and make gains, many others are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their heads above water. The shortage of quality childcare makes it difficult for women to access full-time employment or to remain in the workforce.

"Equality between men and women is not something that should be added on as an afterthought, it should be central to employments polices across all sectors, so we need to expand on today's announcement." ENDS

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