What are gender impact assessments?
Gender impact assessments are a way of critically thinking about how policies, programs and services will meet the different needs of women, men and gender diverse people.
In many circumstances, women and gender diverse individuals may not have the same access to decision-making processes, resources, economic or social opportunities. This means that policies, programs and services are likely to be experienced differently, and have different outcomes for people of different genders.
The aim of gender impact assessments is to create better and fairer outcomes and ensure all people have equal access to opportunities and resources.
Gender impact assessments ask
Does this policy, program or service:
- do everything it can to ensure resources are distributed and used equally?
- consider the different needs of people of all genders?
- benefit some people more than others because they have greater access?
- have the potential to influence broader social norms and gender roles in society?
Taking an intersectional approach
‘Intersectionality’ refers to the ways in which different aspects of a person’s identity can expose them to overlapping forms of discrimination and marginalisation. These aspects can include gender, Aboriginality, age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion or sexual orientation. This amplifies barriers to services, increases the risk of social isolation, and exacerbates social and economic disadvantage, including housing insecurity.
The Gender Equality Act says that, if practicable, you should take into account intersectionality when undertaking a gender impact assessment.
Have you considered:
- how your obligations under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Section 24) and the Local Government Act 2020 (Sections 28, 46, 48) interact with the gender impact assessment process?
- other policies that might be relevant for the gender impact assessment process such as your Community Engagement Policy or a dedicated strategy to support gender equality in your Council Plan?
- whether your Council has endorsed and taken any relevant actions in support of the Victorian Local Government Women’s ?
Have you considered how gender impact assessments might interact with your obligations under the Commonwealth Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 and the previously provided to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency?
What does the Gender Equality Act say about gender impact assessments?
Part 3 of the Gender Equality Act requires organisations to undertake gender impact assessments when developing or reviewing any policy, program or service which has a direct and significant impact on the public.
Under the Gender Equality Act, a gender impact assessment must:
- Assess: How will the policy, program or service affect people of different genders?
- Explain: How will you design or change the policy, program or service to better meet the needs of people of different genders? How will it address gender inequality and promote gender equality?
- Apply an intersectional approach: Consider how the end user’s experience of gender inequality may be shaped by other aspects of their identity including: Aboriginality; age; disability; ethnicity; gender identity; race; religion; sexual orientation.
The Gender Equality Act requires you to undertake a gender impact assessment when you are developing a policy, program or service which has a direct and significant impact on the public. However, given the benefits of gender impact assessments, it is a good idea to consider the impacts of any decision; no matter how small. This could be as simple as including the questions above as a routine part of any decision-making process.
What are the benefits of gender impact assessments?
Improved policy making and service delivery
- More responsive policies, programs and services.
- Recognising and addressing unintended consequences of policies, services or projects on women, gender diverse people and gender equality.
- Greater public awareness of and access to policies, programs and services.
Achieving gender equality
- Providing data and evidence of what works to improve gender equality and to improve outcomes for all members of the Victorian community.
- Helping to prevent unintended negative consequences where a policy, program or service might inadvertently reinforce or contribute to inequality.
- Challenging the harmful gender attitudes and social norms that underpin drivers of violence against women, girls and gender diverse people.
Better use of resources
- More tailored services, based on gender and sex-disaggregated data, research and direct insights from community members.
- Better collaboration with stakeholders and Victorian community members to build an understanding of the problem, context and solution.
Tip: Consider how to foster and share ownership of the gender impact assessment process across the organisation through staff briefings, training, goal setting and performance reviews.
Gender disparities in Victoria and Australia: Key facts
Violence against women
Accessing health services
Natural disasters or crises
- Workplace Gender Equality Agency. 2020. “Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Statistics 2020”, Factsheet series, February 2020 [accessed 21 Sept. 2020]
- Workplace Gender Equality Agency. 2020. “Gender workplace statistics at a glance 2020,” August 2020 [accessed 21 Sept. 2020]
- Deloitte. 2018. ‘Modelling the value of unpaid work and care,’ July 2019 [accessed 21 Sept 2020]
- University of Melbourne. 2020. Domestic Violence, Isolation and COVID-19 [accessed 6 Aug 2020]
- Our Watch. 2020. ‘Quick Facts’ [accessed 21 Sept 2020]
- Australian Government Department of Social Services. 2018. HILDA Survey [accessed 21 Sept 2020]
Reviewed 29 March 2022