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Gender equality

Legislation has existed in Britain for more than 40 years to outlaw discrimination on grounds of a person’s sex. Legislation seeking to implement equal pay was passed in 1970. Although equality in relation to a person’s sex or gender has changed significantly there is still evidence that women experience persistent inequality across a number of areas of society and in the workplace.


Recent studies have continued to demonstrate that women:

  • are paid less
  • can experience discrimination if they have time out from work to have children
  • can experience inequality in health and other service situations
  • make up a smaller proportion of people at the top of companies and other organisations

The most recent piece of equalities legislation relevant to sex discrimination and gender equality is the Equality Act 2010 which lists sex and gender re-assignment as protected characteristics. So when someone is treated less favourably because of their sex or because they have or are undergoing gender re-assignment, then they should enjoy protection under the law, in relation to employment and training, access to services, education and a number of other areas of public life. Further information about the law in relation to sex discrimination and gender equality issues is available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Employers with more than 250 employees are obliged to publish information about the gender pay gap within their organisation. The first gender pay gap data was published in 2018, including the data for us.

Public sector duty to promote equality

The public sector equality duty replaced the duty to promote gender equality under the Equality Act 2010.

Celebrating 100 years of some women gaining the vote

The year 2018 marked the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 in which some women in the UK could first vote in local and national elections. The act came about because of the important role that women had played in World War 1 and followed many years of campaigning by women's suffrage groups. Under this legislation all men were given voting rights from the age of 21 years. Women had to be 30 years of age and either own property, be related to a member of the local government register, or have a degree and live in a university constituency.

Whilst the act was limited in its impact and still meant most women, especially working class women, were unable to exercise their vote, it marked a 10 year journey which resulted in women gaining equal voting rights in 1928 under the Equal Franchise Act 1928.

Our records office is a useful source of further information about the suffrage movement and local campaigners from Derbyshire.