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New initiative looks to address the inequality faced by women ‘from school to retirement’.

The recent publication of the ‘Gender equality at all stages: A roadmap for change’ has outlined the government’s approach to addressing gender inequality across a number of areas.

The ‘road map’, which was announced by the Minister for Women & Equalities Penny Mordaunt, sets out plans to financially empower women across the UK. This includes a review of how equal pay legislation is enforced, as well as improved information for parents around family friendly entitlements

According to the government’s findings, despite generally doing better than male counterparts during education, women are over three times as likely to work part-time with less chance of seeing their wages grow as a result.

To address this disparity the ‘road map’ is aiming to act on a grass roots level by examining the opportunities available to young girls in the classroom. £2million has been pledged to ensure children learn about different careers at primary school age, whilst some of this will also be invested in programmes which look to increase participation in STEM subjects which are increasingly valued in employment.

The ‘road map’ also outlines plans to better support organisations in delivering family friendly policies. This includes a promise to consult on a new right to paid care leave for the millions of individuals currently juggling work and care commitments. It has been argued that the absence of care leave places a significant barrier on employees’ career opportunities, which is believed to disproportionately affect female employees who are historically more likely to take on care responsibilities.

Efforts will also go into assessing how pension entitlements are divided between married couples who undergo a divorce. Government statistics show that only 36 percent of asset sharing agreements after a divorce include the sharing of pensions, which means a large majority of women could be losing out on financial security later in life.

As well as the above, the government outlined their plans to move forward with measures to tackle sexual harassment at work. They announced that a consultation will be launched in their near future to ensure existing legislation is up to scratch. This will include questions on strengthening and clarifying the laws on third party harassment, exploring whether protections need to be extended to interns and volunteers, and examining whether the three month time limit for workplace discrimination and harassment cases needs to be extended.

Following this announcement, organisations would do well to stay up to date with future developments and, in the meantime, consider where adjustments to their existing practices and policies could help address any underlying gender inequality.

 

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