The Equal Opportunities Commission is warning today that gender equality is still generations away. In its final report before it is absorbed into the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, it looks not just at pay and power, but also access to public services.
The report, ‘Completing the Revolution’, coincides with the launch of the Commission’s ‘Gender Agenda’ campaign, which highlights the work which remains to be done. In the report the Commission calls for urgent action to close the stubborn gaps in equality within ten years.
It has identified 22 leading indicators measuring the state of the nation in terms of gender equality based on its experience of more than thirty years of working. In spite of some advances, it says, the indicators show worrying gender gaps in all areas of life. The Gender Agenda sets out a number of priorities for action, including modernising public services so they meet men and women’s needs, providing equal access to justice and safety, sharing power equally between men and women and giving better support to families as well as closing the income gap between men and women.
Today’s report identifies a number of gaps in equality, ranging from the ‘power gap’ for women in Parliament which it says will take almost 200 years to close, to the ‘health gap’ that sees men aged 16-44 almost half as likely as women to consult their GP, and which the report says is unlikely ever to close. The ‘safety gap’ for women, it says, is getting worse. Women are five times more likely than men to feel unsafe walking alone after dark, while young men are almost twice as likely as young women to be victims of violent crime.
The report says the way we live our lives has transformed dramatically in the last 30 years but life around us has not caught up and many workplaces, institutions and services are designed for an age when women stayed at home. Jenny Watson, who chairs the Equal Opportunities Commission, said, “At the current pace of change, it will take generations for the unfinished revolution to be completed and for equality for women and men to be achieved. Britain cannot wait this long. That’s why the EOC is today launching a campaign for concrete change in five key areas for women and men over the next ten years, transforming our workplaces, services and communities.”