It was very timely in this special centenary year of women getting the vote that Fawcett launched its Discrimination Law Review Report. We are all aware that the law has not kept pace with societal change and there is need for work to be done to improve the law. I am sure many of us in our different areas of work have been campaigning for changes in the law. This report takes a holistic look at the discrimination law and shines light where change is needed. A particular area of interest for me is the need to amend the Equality Act to include a multiple discrimination provision in respect of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation for all of the protected characteristics. There is a need for better monitoring data including disaggregated data, reporting and recording mechanisms. Other areas of interest are better use of procurement processes – to include equality conditions, gender pay gap reporting, women’s rights in Northern Ireland, hate crime and misogyny.
Dame Laura Cox DBE Chair of the Review Panel and High Court Judge until 2016 spoke of the Bryant and May match factory. In 1888 women working in the factory famously went on strike over their low wages, as well as their working conditions, but it was nearly 90 years before sex discrimination and equal pay legislation finally arrived in this country in 1975. In 2018 the gender pay gap remains stubbornly in place, despite more than 40 years of equal pay legislation and litigation. The need for a continuing focus on improving and updating the laws available in this country to protect women and prevent sex discrimination, and to ensure that those laws work properly and effectively as we approach the third decade of the twenty first century was unanimously supported.
I am sure this review will help all of us as we push for change and gender equality whilst celebrating what we have achieved.