Why are gender impact assessments important?

Victoria values gender equality. 

We want our policies, programs and services to benefit everyone in our community.  

Applying a gender lens to policy making helps us to see from different perspectives and identify gendered impacts that may not be obvious to everyone. When we design something that will apply to everyone in the same way, this may seem fair – however, it may have an unfair effect on particular groups of people, including people of different genders. 

Without considering the perspectives of people of different genders, we risk contributing to existing inequalities – or worse, creating new ones. 

Gender impact assessments are an important planning tool, helping us apply a gender lens so we can develop solutions that benefit everyone. 

For example, a local Council is developing a new community space.  

Alan is developing the project plan and thinks the community space should be built close to a popular freeway exit for ease of access and next to an existing skate park.  

Alan thinks the space should include a park with a playground, a community garden, a market zone for local vendors to hire stalls, some parking spaces, and some male, female and accessible bathrooms. 

Alan is very proud of the space he has designed and invites his co-workers to have a look. 

Bea notices that the proposed location of the community space is far from public transport options. She also notices that the park and market garden area don’t seem to have much lighting, or any emergency call buttons or phone boxes to call security officers. 

Cal notices that the space does not have any ‘all gendered’ bathrooms. 

And Dejan notices that there are no baby change facilities in the male bathrooms and no pram access to the market zone.  

Alan planned the space with the benefit of his experience, knowledge, and reality (that is, his lens).  His colleagues noticed other issues and opportunities for the community space because they have different lenses. 

People of different genders may have different experiences due to other aspects of their identity, such as their cultural and religious background, age, or disability. By including these lenses too, we can add more layers and perspectives to policymaking. 

Like Alan, we each have our own unique lens. This is why it is important to undertake a gender impact assessment – to make sure we look at a policy, program, or service through different lenses, including the lenses of men, women and non-binary people, as well as the lenses of people with different experiences of advantage and disadvantage, privilege and discrimination. 

Including a wider range of lenses is important to ensure that the policy, program or service being designed benefits more individuals in the diverse community it is being designed for.