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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Transporting the Gender Equality Scheme

Monday, April 30, 2007

Meg was invited to speak at the launch of the Department for Transport’s Gender Equality Scheme in London. The Scheme was launched by Gillian Merron, Minister for Transport.



Thank you for inviting me to speak at the launch of Department of Transport’s Gender Equality Scheme. As you have already heard about your particular Scheme from Gillian, I will focus on the overall context of the gender equality duty.


In 1975, the Labour Government brought in the Sex Discrimination Act. Its primary focus was, and remains, eliminating discrimination between the sexes. Where women and men have felt that they have not been treated fairly, they can seek legal redress.


However, whilst a number of individual legal cases helped change society, there remain areas which have not changed nearly enough - for example the area of gender pay. Too often women still come second in the workplace. Men face inequalities to, the increasingly clear wish to have a fuller role as fathers, to have a better work-life balance, to give two examples.


In 2002, we introduced public sector duties. These were a means of getting public authorities to be positively proactive in securing equality of opportunity, and not just eliminate discrimination and harassment. Why the public sector? Well, it’s a big employer, and we’re all affected by public services - transport for example. The duties are also a major part of Government’s drive to continually modernise the public sector, to ensure they provide high-quality, responsive services - better outcomes for all.


The gender equality duty that we are here to launch today is the third and latest public sector duty. Since 6th April, public authorities have been required to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful sex discrimination and harassment and promote equality of opportunity between women and men when carrying out their functions. 


This means not thinking about equality as an add on. Or indeed setting out a particular service and then thinking that you might need to do something special for women - or indeed for men. How are you going to make sure that your services meet both the needs of men and women? Crucially too how are you making sure that your employment practices take account of the different needs of men and women?


By tomorrow, public authorities - like the Department for Transport - should have published their gender equality schemes. Public bodies will have identified gender equality objectives and come up with an action plan to achieve those objectives. When drawing up the scheme various stakeholders will have been consulted - service users, employees and unions for instance.


It won’t surprise you to hear, that as Minister for Women and Equality I think these schemes are an important way of achieving a more equal society. I think they have the potential to be the most significant measure to advance gender equality for over 30 years. 


The work the Department for Transport carries out affect thousands of people, service users as well as employees. We should all benefit from improved service provision and improved conditions at work as a result of the successful implementation of the gender equality duty.  I wish you well.


For further details: http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/


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