The United Kingdom’s gender equality and anti-discrimination legislation was revised in 2010 with the Equality Act, a landmark piece of legislation that overrode all previous gender-equality laws for England, Scotland and Wales. The act follows an innovative intersectional equalities approach, representing a shift in the policy priorities from gender equality to a concept of equality spanning all dimensions of discrimination. As such, findings on equality policies generally pertain to both gender and a host of other equality strands more broadly.
Central level: The Government Equalities Office (GEO) is the main structure for gender equality, with responsibility for the implementation of the equality strategy across the UK government, particularly on issues relating to women, sexual orientation and transgender equality. The GEO was established in 2007 as an independent department, replacing the Women and Equality Unit that had been set up in the 1970s.
Laws and Policies
The UK’s central legislation on equality is the Equality Act 2010, a modernised and harmonised version of previous equality and anti-discrimination legislation. The act takes an intersectional approach covering a number of equality strands, creating an overall approach within which all gender-equality policies are subsumed, and within which methods and tools exist to mainstream the gender-equality agenda in the work of public bodies. Thus, the focus in the UK has shifted from gender equality to a concept of equality spanning all dimensions of discrimination.
Methods & Tools
The PSED may be regarded as both an arrangement and a method for equality mainstreaming. Previous separate Equality Duties had required all public bodies to conduct a gender impact assessment and placed a legal responsibility on them to demonstrate their fair treatment of both women and men. In the 2010 PSED, the mainstreaming methods entail publishing equality information and setting equality objectives.