Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

We need Gender Justice to close the inequality gap here in the UK

Blog by Helen Moulinos, Amnesty UK member & Amnesty Vice-Chair Board of Trustees

 Twitter: @HelenMoulinos


We are all equal, right? Or are we?

Five decades of well-meaning (but inefficient) gender equality legislation, and we remain unequal.

We need meaningful Gender Justice legal & policy change for women, men, non-binary, cis and trans people. Gender Inequality is a social process by which people are treated differently and disadvantageously, under similar circumstances, based on gender. Whereas, Gender Justice creates gender equality laws, policies, and behaviours and redresses ending inequality between women, men,  and non-binary people. 

According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report, the UK ranks 22nd out of 153 countries. This is a clear indication that there is much work left to do. By implementing this law, we can take a significant step towards closing this gender inequality gap.

As someone profoundly affected by the persistent gender inequality gap in the UK, I have launched a Friends for Gender Justice campaign. I am calling for urgent cross-party cooperation and legislative action. It is not acceptable to me that a call for gender equality, which began generations decades before I was born in the 1970s, has still not succeeded or been taken seriously within our society. No one in our society should be treated with any less respect or dignity because of their gender. Despite various government programmes and policies aimed at closing this gender equality gap, we are yet to see enough progress. The lack of incentives or penalties for organisations that fail to treat all genders equally is a glaring omission in our legal framework. Moreover, individuals who experience gender-based discrimination often find themselves without recourse.

The United Kingdom has an opportunity to join other progressive countries in ensuring no one is treated differently in day-to-day life because of their gender. 

We need to rectify these issues by requiring that UK laws protect women, men, and gender-neutral people equally. Legal reform should ensure equal opportunities across all spheres of society and prevent discrimination based on gender. UK government policy should include incentives and penalties for organisations evading their gender equality duty to uphold equality across all genders. Organisations should be required to report their progress against ambitious compliance targets set by the UK government to eliminate gender inequality before 2040. 

This proposed legislative reform could apply to all public, third or private sector organisations providing services, products, or employment. We must hold these entities accountable for promoting and maintaining gender equality within their operations.

Over several decades, the UK government has taken steps towards ensuring gender equality within UK law. The well-meaning intentions of the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act of 2002, the Equal Pay Act of 1970, the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999, Gender Recognition Act of 2004, Northern Ireland, however the Sex Discrimination Gender Reassignment Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999 have been repealed and replaced by the Equality Act 2010, The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms everyone in the UK is entitled to, including people of different genders. Most of the British public may not know how HRA applies to them and often do not have the legal resources to exercise their rights. The Equality Act 2010 offers gender (sex) and gender identity protections but only applies to public sector organisations. The Gender Pay Gap initiative run by the EHRC continues to show plodding progress and no consequences for non-compliance by employers.  Employment benefits do not seem to recognise the diversity of family structures in the UK, the reality that parenting or carer responsibilities are not gendered roles in today’s contemporary society. Gender-biased media and advertising, which humiliates people by gender, persist. Access to services is often skewed in favour of one gender or another. Education has not yet eliminated stereotyping by gender. Powerful institutions continue to persist with structures and decision-making unbalanced in their gender composition and dominated by one gender.  

These UK legal & policy interventions, over half a century or more, have reduced the gap but have not been effective in solving the issue of gender inequality nor necessarily enforced visibly.  

We need Gender Justice reform to deliver equality within UK laws, policies and redresses to deliver:

  • Equal pay & benefits for equal work of the same job title.
  • Fair and transparent equal pro-rated pay for full-time and part-time workers.
  • Equal access to education.
  • The elimination of gender-based education programmes.
  • Pension access gender equality.
  • Equal representation in power structures such as management teams or Boards.
  • Equal representation in decision-making structures such as courts or tribunals.
  • Equal representation in Parliament and Local Councils.
  • The elimination of services or products which exclude people or restrict access to opportunity based on gender.
  • Eliminate disproportionate gender-biased media reporting, which humiliates someone on the basis of their gender.
  • Equal access to healthcare and social care services regardless of gender.
  • Better protections for people of all genders from violence, harassment, and discrimination based on their gender.
  • Protections for men and women. Protections for people who are gender neutral or gender non-conforming.
  • Elimination of gender-biased marketing of products or services.
  • A central and local government requirement to equally consult with people of all genders when implementing new programmes or policies.
  • A requirement for organisations to publically report once annually progress against gender equality action plans and non-compliance breaches.

There is an opportunity for both UK employers and the UK government to become champions and global leaders advocating for gender equality in the UK. New legal measures and an action plan that embeds gender equality at its core will shape future generations and bring about lasting change.

Join me as we fight for a more equitable future where everyone has an equal opportunity regardless of gender or gender identity. Help make gender inequality a thing of the past for future generations. 

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
View latest posts