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Every Welsh Government decision should face gender equality test – Senedd Committee

18 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Jenny Rathbone, Chair of the Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee

A gender equality test should apply to all Welsh Government decisions to help tackle the ‘epidemic’ of gender-based violence, according to a new report published by a Senedd committee.

The report, “How we must all play our part”, sets out a plan for a public health approach to gender-based violence (GBV).

Committee chair Jenny Rathbone MS highlighted the recent culture review of South Wales Fire and Rescue as an example illustrating that urgent action is needed.

Domestic abuse

Equality and Social Justice Committee Chair Jenny Rathbone MS said: “Two women a week are killed by a former or current partner in England and Wales. A third of women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Due to under-reporting, it is likely that official figures underestimate the true scale of this shocking problem.

“Each victim of this epidemic is a victim too many. To end it, we must all play our part – especially men and boys – by tackling the root causes.

“The Culture Review of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is a recent reminder of the cultural change required to combat this. While that Review came out too late for our inquiry to consider, it illustrates why gender-based violence is deemed an epidemic.”

“The Welsh Government role as an innovator and leader in adopting a public health approach to this problem is pivotal.”

Risk factors

The World Health Organisation defines a public health approach as “addressing underlying risk factors that increase the likelihood that an individual will become a victim or a perpetrator of violence”.

As gender inequality is the main underlying cause of GBV, the Committee calls for all major Welsh Government policy decisions and legislative proposals to be assessed in terms of a ‘gender equality test’.

The report calls for everyone in Wales to play their part – especially boys and men. The inquiry had heard that any approach to preventing GBV which neglects engagement with men and boys is unlikely to succeed.

The report also recommends that Welsh Government should:

  • Work with public, private and third sector partners to improve public awareness of gender issues, promote women in leadership, and enforce rights that guarantee equality and freedom from discrimination, harassment and violence.
  • Request that Estyn undertakes a national review of how healthy relationships are taught schools.
  • Help businesses and workplaces implement policies that support a safe and equal working environment, including training on preventing harassment and violence.

If you, or someone you know, is impacted by any of the issues raised in the report, you can contact the Live Fear Free helpline for confidential information, advice or support on 0808 80 10 800.

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