Gender mainstreaming is critical to delivering women’s labour market equality and, in doing so, tackle wider gender inequality. Many of the causes of the gender pay gap are not unlawful, e.g. the lack of quality flexible working at senior levels and a lack of affordable wraparound childcare. In order to tackle these issues, gender must be at the heart of policymaking. Policy that responds to the specific experiences of women is also better quality and better value for money – put simply, it delivers for everyone. Gender mainstreaming is such a valuable tool for policymakers and we need to see it being used effectively.
Close the Gap works on women’s labour market inequality, which includes policy advocacy and employer engagement. The Scottish-specific duties of the public sector equality duty (PSED) are a big focus for us as they require public bodies to mainstream gender across all of their functions. We are interested in how public bodies are using their gender pay gap, occupational segregation and employment data to do gender mainstreaming. This supports our work to advocate for a duty that delivers for women and has formed the basis for our employer guidance on PSED and the work we do to support individual public bodies to improve their compliance.
It is difficult to pick just one thing and there are really three things that have to work in concert in order for gender mainstreaming to happen. Firstly, public bodies need support to develop their understanding of gender inequality and how this relates to the work they do. Without this it’s difficult to develop good quality solutions. Secondly, we need to see real accountability for public bodies to ensure gender mainstreaming is done – and done well. Thirdly, we need leadership at the most senior levels of public bodies that makes clear gender mainstreaming is a core part of their work as public service providers, employers, and in their other roles.
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