Gender Mainstreaming & ‘Equality Proofing’ in British Law-Making

A Comment on the Impact of the Equality Act 2010

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Abstract

The central purpose of this article is to demonstrate that ‘gender mainstreaming’ and ‘equality proofing’ procedures in British law-making are in a state of flux. It reflects on two recent developments that are likely to have a significant impact on how gender equality concerns are
taken into account in law-making: the introduction of the single public sector equality duty in the Equality Act 2010 and the announcement in late 2012 by David Cameron that public authorities are no longer required to carry out ‘equality impact assessments’. Although both of these developments threaten to undermine the fundamental purpose of gender mainstreaming, a widely-endorsed equality strategy that requires all law and policy to be evaluated through a gendered lens, they also send conflicting messages to public authorities. Whereas the new public sector equality duty requires law-makers to be more aware of diversity and to take more equality concerns into account in law and policy making, the axing of equality impact assessments reflects the view that such practices are overly bureaucratic and a waste of valuable resources. This paradox exacerbates the lack of clarity that currently defines ‘equality proofing’ in British
law-making and raises new and serious questions about the responsiveness of future laws to the needs and interests of diverse social groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-104
Number of pages14
JournalAberdeen Student Law Review
Volume4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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gender mainstreaming
equality
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Law
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title = "Gender Mainstreaming & ‘Equality Proofing’ in British Law-Making: A Comment on the Impact of the Equality Act 2010",
abstract = "The central purpose of this article is to demonstrate that ‘gender mainstreaming’ and ‘equality proofing’ procedures in British law-making are in a state of flux. It reflects on two recent developments that are likely to have a significant impact on how gender equality concerns are taken into account in law-making: the introduction of the single public sector equality duty in the Equality Act 2010 and the announcement in late 2012 by David Cameron that public authorities are no longer required to carry out ‘equality impact assessments’. Although both of these developments threaten to undermine the fundamental purpose of gender mainstreaming, a widely-endorsed equality strategy that requires all law and policy to be evaluated through a gendered lens, they also send conflicting messages to public authorities. Whereas the new public sector equality duty requires law-makers to be more aware of diversity and to take more equality concerns into account in law and policy making, the axing of equality impact assessments reflects the view that such practices are overly bureaucratic and a waste of valuable resources. This paradox exacerbates the lack of clarity that currently defines ‘equality proofing’ in British law-making and raises new and serious questions about the responsiveness of future laws to the needs and interests of diverse social groups.",
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