Giving Compass' Take:

• This report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission recognizes progress and gaps in the effort to advance gender equality in the UK.

• How can funders advance gender equality in the UK? Are these policy recommendations relevant in other countries? 

• Read our gender equality guide for donors

This report represents the response of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (the EHRC) to the UK Government’s eighth periodic report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The EHRC recognizes and commends the progress made in the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) since it was last reviewed in 2013, including:

  • criminalizing forced marriage (see page 43)
  • introducing the Modern Slavery Act (see page 53)
  • introducing shared parental leave (see page 82)
  •  bringing in tougher gender pay gap regulations (see page 89), and
  • committing to establish mandatory, age-appropriate relationships and sex
    education (see page 103).

Nevertheless, we also focus on areas in which there has been insufficient progress,
or are ongoing challenges in the realization of CEDAW. Our report relates to 73% of the substantive Concluding Observations issued by the CEDAW Committee in 2013, many of which are still outstanding or not fully implemented.

Women’s rights, gender equality and social norms have been the subject of much national and international debate in recent months. In the UK, a series of incidents have called into question the rigid set of assumptions many still have of women and girls and the significant problems they face, such as sexual harassment in schools and in the workplace (see pages 83-85 and 104-107).

This wide-ranging report – our broadest ever review into women’s rights – seeks to demonstrate the extent to which gender inequality affects the various facets of women’s lives. Recognising that women have diverse lived experiences, we have sought to include intersectional analysis where evidence allowed. However, persistent gaps in data disaggregated by protected characteristics remain, making it harder to identify multiple discrimination and disadvantage. The EHRC is clear,
however, that CEDAW protects and relates to all women, and our recommendations should be read as applying to all groups of women.

This report also highlights the sometimes serious and extreme consequences of women’s inequality. EHRC research has found that there is a clear link between commonly held, prejudiced attitudes and unlawful behavior. This aligns with the CEDAW Committee’s recent general recommendation on violence against women, which states that ‘the need to assert male control or power, enforce gender roles, or prevent, discourage or punish what is considered to be unacceptable female behavior ... contribute to the explicit or implicit social acceptance of gender-based violence against women … and to the widespread impunity in that regard’. Our aim is to encourage the UK and Welsh governments to use the CEDAW reporting process to continue and strengthen their efforts to assess progress and improve compliance with their human rights obligations. To this end, our submission includes specific recommendations, which we believe can support this important task.