1. Key issues
1.1. Cultural change
The language of gender mainstreaming can seem off-putting, and is not something which would instantly grab the attention of staff across the organisation. A long, sustained programme of behaviour change will be needed to help people understand what gender mainstreaming is trying to achieve – much more than women’s issues, and to move away from widespread patriarchal norms. Commitment is needed for the long-term if change, and the vision of an equal nation, is to be realised.
1.2. Establishing ownership
Senior leadership is vital: both political and corporate. Everyone needs to see equality as their job. The Deeds Not Words report makes recommendations which will require leadership from senior staff in the organisation and Ministers to engage in the agenda; and the establishment of greater capacity to support staff in the organisation, through Equality Leads.
1.3. Capacity building and training
With equality becoming ‘everybody’s business’ there is an implicit assumption that everyone has the knowledge they need. As noted above, gender theory and language can be complex. There is a need to ensure people, including officials and Ministers, have the knowledge and training to bring a gender perspective to their work. This will need to be closely aligned to cultural change, particularly to avoid any misunderstandings that this is just about women.
1.4. Goal setting and measuring progress
Gender mainstreaming is a long-term undertaking. We need to be clear on the steps we will be taking to achieve the government’s vision and how we will know we are on the right track. This will require cross-government engagement and will need to align with government priorities and the Well-being Goals. We will also need to ensure alignment with other key strategies such as the Strategic Equality Plan (SEP).
As raised throughout Deeds Not Words, we need to consider inequalities which arise through protected characteristics, e.g. disability, sexuality, ethnic background. This is an important part of achieving equality of outcome. It is one area where very limited data is available, and therefore an area of evidence which we will need to grow.
1.6. Legislative framework
The review suggests that robust legislation is needed to underpin attempts to achieve greater gender equality which might otherwise be downgraded by a change in government. The Welsh Government is commissioning research to consider how rights can be strengthened. Wales already has legislation in place to promote gender equality with the Government of Wales Act 2006 (s77), the Wales Specific Equality Duties, the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015, and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 regarded as world-leading legislation. The challenge is to secure effective implementation of the intent signalled by these Acts. An added challenge in addressing the legislative framework is the devolution settlement. Key legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010, is not devolved to Wales.