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Click here to download the Gender Duty pamphlet'The Line of Duty' is the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation's latest publication supported by Sport England and is now available to download.

This easy-to-read guide to the new Gender Equality Duty looks at the implications it will have for sport. We've tried to make it applicable to all sports organisations, whether or not your organisation needs to comply.

What is the Gender Equality Duty (GED)?

The Duty is the biggest change to sex equality legislation since the 1970s. It came into force on 6th April 2007 and provides an unprecedented opportunity to achieve equality in (sports) provision at all levels. Part of the wider reaching Equality Bill, the GED shifts the onus from individuals proving discrimination to authorities positively promoting equality.

WSFF are excited by the possible impact of the GED and it's potential to transform women's sporting experience. We are interested in hearing from any organisations that are, or could be, affected by the GED. We are particularly keen to hear from you if you are:

  1. A local sports club/ team etc. who is interested to learn how they can use the GED to campaign for better facilities
  2. A public authority who are subject to the general duty

To get in-touch email: info@wsff.org.uk or call: 020 7273 1740.

The general duty

The general duty applies to all public authorities and is an overall duty to eliminate discrimination and harassment and to promote equality. There is no definitive list of 'public authorities' that are subject to the general duty.

The Equal Opportunities Commission use following guidelines to define a public body:

A public authority is a "body whose functions are those of a public nature". A private body may be held to be performing public functions and thus subject to the gender equality duty in relation to those functions if:

The Sports Councils are subject to the general duty. Other public and private bodies that fit into any of the categories above will also be subject to the general duty.

Specific duties

A defined list of public authorities are tasked with putting into place certain 'specific duties'. The specific duties are not an objective in themselves but they are a means of meeting the general duty. They include preparing and publishing a gender equality scheme and putting into place ways to address any pay gaps. For sport, this list includes UK Sport, the Olympic Delivery Authority, Local Authorities and Local Education Authorities. In Scotland, the legislation is a little different, and Sport Scotland has also been tasked with undertaking specific duties.

Implications for Sport

An example outcome

Women's teams often complain that local authority football pitches are overwhelmingly used by men and historic bookings make it impossible to book anything but the least facourable pitches. From April this year, authorities will be obliged to measure how their services are used and take action to rectify any imbalance.

Relevant provision not identical provision

The duty does not mean that single-sex sport will be abolished - in fact the legislation specifically recognises that in some circumstances it is appropriate. However, the Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) still applies, and public authorities must satisfy themselves that any approach to single-sex activities complies with the SDA. Don't worry though, there are plenty of exemptions to the SDA and there are a number of instances where it is deemed both fair and equal to supply services to just one sex whilst excluding the other.

Get in touch

The Gender Equality Duty can be an important tool to use in achieving our goals. We'd love to hear your feedback, and your thoughts on how the duty will impact on your work. WSFF are also available to offer advice on complying with your duties, so please do get in touch. Email us on info@wsff.org.uk or call 020 7273 1740. For more generic information and advice, visit the EOC website or download the EOC's code of practice.