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Gender Equality

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What is gender discrimination?

Gender discrimination is a situation where one person is treated less favourably due to their gender than another person of the opposite gender in a similar situation. Unequal treatment most often stems from prejudices and attitudes that prevent a person from seeing the individual – their worth, skills and abilities.

Gender discrimination often occurs due to preconceptions about what rights or obligations a man or woman should have and which roles they should play in life. These stereotypical convictions about gender roles affect employers, civil servants, educational employees and others in decision-making.

When making a decision on discrimination, it is the consequence that matters, ie the fact that a person has been treated unequally due to their gender. For example, if a man is refused a nursery teacher position despite him having the required training, because children have been traditionally looked after by women, not men. Or if girls are not accepted to study to become electricians, because technical fields of study have historically been for boys. In other words, a decision regarding a particular person is not made based on the suitability of their education, abilities, professional skills, personal traits, etc, but based on preconceptions of who a man or woman can and should be and what they can and should do with their life.

Gender discrimination is prohibited in all areas of society. However, the requirements of the Gender Equality Act do not apply to the professing and practising of faith in registered religious associations and to working as a minister of religion (eg churches may choose persons of a particular gender for ministers of religion if this is required by the principles of the relevant religion) or to family and private life (eg it is not possible to bring a claim of equal treatment against a family member or to claim compensation for damages from them).