Gender inequalities: a brief policy overview

08 March 2022

This brief overview is supplementary to our blog series on gender inequalities.

Gender inequality has been a focus of national and international organisations for decades, and the recent high-profile incidents of male violence against women have led to another wave of interventions at national and local levels. However, while progress has been made, it has been uneven, and gender inequality persists.  

Access our related blog series.

International policy

United Nations. The UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres has stated that achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world. 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Proclaimed in 1948, set out fundamental human rights, including gender equality, to be universally protected.  

European Convention on Human Rights (1950). Drew on Universal Declaration of Human Rights and seen as a direct response to aftermath of WW2. Specifically prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, colour, language, religion, political and other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or status. But does not mention discrimination based on sexual orientation.  


Human Rights Act (1998) incorporated rights outlined in the European Convention of Human Rights into UK law. Consultation in 2021 to reform the Human Rights Act 1998 and replace it with a Bill of Rights.  

Equality Act 2010. Requiring public bodies to have due regard to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between people.  

Gender Recognition Act 2004. Allowing trans people to change legal gender.  

Tackling violence against women and girls’ strategy (2021). Contains three ambitions (1) increase support for victims and survivors; (2) increase the numbers of perpetrators brought to justice; (3) reduce the prevalence of violence against women and girls.  

Gender Equality Policy Map. Published by Gender Equality Policy Hub in the House of Commons Scrutiny Unit. Maps key policies with relevance to equality for and between women and men, boys and girls. Living document, regularly updated, and disseminated.   


Equality Act (2010). Prohibits discrimination, harassment, and victimisation against people who possess one of the following ‘protected characteristics’ (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity).  

Equally Safe strategy (2018). Aim is to work collaboratively with key partners in public, private, and third sectors to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls.  

Abusive Behavioural and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016. Modernised the law on domestic and sexual abuse to ensure courts take domestic abuse into account when sentencing offenders, gave courts power to make non-harassment orders, improved access to justice for victims of sexual offences, and gave courts jurisdiction to cover UK. Later updated in 2019 to criminalise psychological, coercive and controlling abuse.  

Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005. Made it a criminal offence to have female genital mutilation carried out in Scotland or abroad, and increased penalty from 5-14 years imprisonment.  

Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011. Protects people being forced to marry or who are already in a forced marriage, and extended protection to those at risk.  

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015. Set out new criminal offences and specified the types of exploitation  

Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act. 2009. Reformed the law to extend the definition of rape and created several other sexual offences including: sexual coercion, sexual exposure, voyeurism.   

Gender Equality Index. 2020. Set a baseline against which Scotland will measure its future progress towards gender equality.   


Glasgow City Council Equality Outcomes. 2017-2021. In response to Equality Act 2010, set out Council Family Equality Outcomes which reflect GCC priorities.  

Glasgow City Council Equality Impact Assessment. Tool for assessing the effects of a council policy or function on removing barriers to equality.  

Glasgow City Council Violence Against Women Partnership. A city-wide multi-agency partnership concerned with preventing and eradicating all form of violence against women. 

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Services need to be accessible, appropriate, and sensitive to the needs of all service users. No-one should be excluded or experience difficulty in accessing and effectively using our services due to their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, race/ethnicity, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. Also an equal opportunities employer, committed to ensuring employees are not discriminated against. Each  

NHS Scotland, Executive Lead and Operational Lead for gender-based violence. Each NHS board has a local contact for information on local policies, training opportunities and support for staff.   

Support and third sector agencies 

The following are just some support and third sector organisations who are fighting for gender equality on an international, national and local level.  

UN Women. United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) is the UN agency dedicated to gender equality.  

Center for Reproductive Rights. Established in 1992, aim to use the power of law to advance reproductive rights as a fundamental human right around the world.  

Men Engage Alliance. Global alliance of country networks which works on engaging men and boys in gender equality.  

Scottish Women’s Aid. Established in 1976. Lead organisation in Scotland working towards prevention of domestic abuse. Has a network of 34 specialisation local groups across the country.  

Rape Crisis Scotland. Working to transform attitudes, improve responses, and end rape and sexual violence in all its forms. Has 17 local centres across Scotland. 

Victim Support Scotland. Provide support for victims, witnesses, and family members affected by crime across Scotland.  

Pregnant then Screwed. UK charity working to end the motherhood penalty. Campaigns on issues that impact pregnant women and working mums.  

Fawcett Society. Campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights at work, at home, and in public life.   

Scottish Trans Alliance. Working to improve gender identity and gender reassignment equality, rights, and inclusion in Scotland.