Sex Discrimination Law

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2019 National Women's Conference
2 October 2018

When it comes to sex discrimination law, the UK’s national story has undoubtedly been one of considerable progress over many years, but it is also true that in some areas that progress has been too slow or has stalled altogether.

Our discrimination laws have been instrumental in changing attitudes and in improving life for many women, at work and in society generally. Yet, in some areas those very laws have been shown to be inadequate, or to be beset by undue complexity and unacceptable delays for those women who have sought to use those laws in our courts and tribunals.

This conference applauds the courageous work of the UNISON legal department in challenging through the courts the government imposition of fees for employment tribunals, which adversely and directly affected women’s access to justice.

This conference further applauds the work of Fawcett Society in undertaking a comprehensive review of existing sex discrimination laws, published in January 2018. Fawcett Society brought together a panel of women, experts in their fields to conduct this legal review, making recommendations in a broad range of areas to eliminate the disadvantage that women so often face within their work and in broader society.

The report makes recommendations on improving the law and practice thereby protecting and enhancing women lives in the following areas:

• Brexit

• In the workplace

? Pay and pensions

? Maternity paternity and family friendly rights

? Sexual harassment

? Dress codes

• Violence against Women and Girls

• Services for women and girls

• Domestic violence and the law

• Sexual violence and the law

• Hate crime and misogyny

• Access to justice

• Multiple discrimination

• Sex equality law in Northern Ireland

What is clear from the review is that despite the progress that has been made since the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act was introduced, and followed by the implementation of the Equality Act 2010, the discrimination, harassment, victimisation, misogyny and violence that women experience on a daily basis shows no sign of abating, and the gender pay gap stubbornly remains.

Conference calls upon the national women’s committee to:

1)Publicise the report widely among our membership

2. Incorporate the relevant workplace recommendations from the report into the ongoing campaigning and the forthcoming annual work plan of the national women’s committee

3. Write to Fawcett Society to congratulate them on this piece of work