Under section 7 of the Gender Equality Act 2020 (the Act), defined entities have a duty to promote gender equality.
According to the Act, this means that a defined entity must — in developing policies and programs and in delivering services that are to be provided to the public, or have a direct and significant impact on the public:
- consider and promote gender equality; and
- take necessary and proportionate action towards achieving gender equality.
Along with the requirement to conduct gender impact assessments, this duty will ensure the Victorian public sector, local councils and universities make lasting and genuine progress towards gender equality across our community.
The Commission has developed a guidance note to assist organisations with understanding and interpreting the terms ‘policies’, ‘programs’ and ‘services’ and ‘direct and significant impact on the public' to determine whether a gender impact assessment is required under the Act.
Case study: A health service takes ‘necessary and proportionate action’ to advancing gender equality
A metropolitan health service conducts a gender impact assessment on their antenatal and maternity services, and discovers these services are reinforcing outdated gender stereotypes that women are the primary carers of babies and young children. To shift this, they will need to undertake multiple strategies. This includes revising their policies to be more gender-inclusive, updating the imagery and language in their communications to engage fathers and carers of other genders, and educating staff on gender equality.
In addition to these strategies that were identified through their gender impact assessment, the health service also seeks to embed gender equality through other avenues in order to comply with the duty. This includes training and awareness-raising activities on gender equality across departments, embedding gender equality actions into committees and structures, HR policy reviews, job descriptions and performance plans. They also ensure gender equality is a key consideration alongside other diversity issues when undertaking consumer consultation and engagement.
All these actions could be considered necessary and proportionate to addressing the issue and advancing gender equality within a health service.
The Commission will publish Accessible (WCAG AA compliant) versions of relevant documents on the Commission’s website as soon as possible.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries.