Gender auditing and impact analysis: Vic looks through the 'gender lens'

By David Donaldson

December 6, 2016

Equality between the sexes depicted in a conceptual image by a man drawing a seesaw showing the male and female genetic symbols in equilibrium.

Gender auditing and gender impact analysis will be gradually introduced across Victorian government departments as part of the state’s new gender equality strategy, which requires agencies to consider how all policy, purchasing and economic planning might affect women across the state.

Agencies will need to report annually on progress to improve gender equality, including the gender pay gap, the uptake of flexible work, gender equality in recruitment and promotion and access to training and development, under the strategy released on Monday.

The state government has declared targets for 50% female representation in public service executive roles and on paid public boards, as well as all roles being flexible by default.

A target of 50% women for local government councillors and mayors, and new appointments to the courts will be implemented. There will be a 40% target for state sport and recreation organisational boards and private and not-for-profit boards.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning recently managed to dramatically increase the number of women on the state’s water boards in a short space of time, by looking for candidates beyond the narrow pool of retired water engineers.

Gender auditing will be progressively introduced across departments to measure performance in five key areas: equal pay for comparable work; recruitment and promotion; leadership development and mentoring; flexible working; and organisational culture. This will occur initially through pilots and be the subject of evaluation, including cost-benefit analysis.

All departments are “to adopt a policy of all roles are flexible with a requirement to justify ‘if not why not’,” according to the strategy.

The government pledges to “put a gender lens on policies, budgets and economic planning” and will incorporate gender budget statements from the 2017-18 Budget onwards. There are also plans to develop and pilot gender impact analysis tools in policy, service delivery and budget development. The report explains:

“Gender impact analysis considers the implications of a policy in terms of resource distribution; distribution of paid and unpaid work; the adequacy of a policy to meet the different needs of women, men and trans and gender diverse people; and how the policy might affect gender norms and roles.”

Evaluation outcomes, including cost-benefit analysis, will inform wider roll-out. This will include sharing learnings with the private, not-for-profit and community sectors.

Purchasing power

Victoria plans to use its procurement clout to influence gender equality in the private sector. The government will progressively introduce gender ethical procurement policies with regard to contracted organisations, suppliers and funded agencies, including to encourage commitments to family violence leave and workplace gender equality.

These policies will apply only to larger contracts and organisations with at least 200 employees. They will be developed in consultation with the relevant policy setters across all government procurement frameworks, including the Victorian Government Purchasing Board, Health Purchasing Victoria, Construction Policy and with stakeholders.

The government also intends to explore undertaking gender audits for major transport projects.

A gender equality baseline will be created by reviewing the “full range” of existing datasets, which will help inform further targets and monitoring.

The plan includes a range of other initiatives, including tackling the economic dimensions of gender inequity and advocating to the Commonwealth on national gender equality issues.

The strategy comes after Victoria released a new 10-year family violence plan last month, promising to prioritise victims’ rights over perpetrators’ privacy where possible with regard to information sharing. The government plans to create a co-ordination agency to oversee its new family violence support and safety hubs, as well as a prevention agency to provide advice on best practice.

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