Gender equality

The Department for Communities is responsible for Gender Equality on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive.

New Gender Equality Strategy

Following Executive approval on 24 September 2020, work began on the development of the new Gender Equality Strategy. The Strategy will bring focus to identifying and addressing the issues, barriers and disadvantages that undermine equality of opportunity in our community and fulfil the commitments in New Decade, New Approach and the Executive’s Programme for Government. 

Gender Equality Strategy 2006 - 2016

Promoting gender equality is one of the government‘s priorities and the Gender Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland 2006-2016 provides a policy framework for our work to mainstream gender equality and tackle gender inequalities.

Gender Equality legislation

The work of the Gender Policy Unit will be taken forward within a context of increasing legislative emphasis on the promotion of gender equality.

Sex discrimination

The Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 as amended makes it unlawful to discriminate against:

  • an individual on the grounds of his or her sex in employment, training and related matters, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services and the disposal and management of premises
  • married persons in employment
  • since 1999, an individual who intends to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone gender reassignment in employment and training.

For more information on gender reassignment, access the Guide to the Sex Discrimination Gender Reassignment Regulations (Northern Ireland)  .

Following an earlier consultation, we amended the Order in April 2004 to make it unlawful to discriminate after the end of the relationship, for example the employment relationship.

More information on this legislation can be found on the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland website

The Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970

The Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 as amended applies equally to men and women. It provides for equal pay between men and women by giving, to take a woman as the example, a woman the right to equality in terms of her contract of employment where she is employed on:

  • like work to that of a man
  • work rated as equivalent to that of a man
  • work of equal value to that of a man

Following previous consultations, the Act was amended in April 2004 to change the time limits within which claims must be brought, and the arrears period for successful cases. Access the Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 via the website.

Section 19 of the Employment Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 - Gender pay gap information

Section 19 of the Employment Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 sets out the requirement for employers to publish information relating to the pay of employees for the purpose of showing whether, by reference to factors of such description as is prescribed, there are differences in the pay of male and female employees. Implementation of section 19 is being taken forward in the context of the development of the new Gender Equality Strategy.

Contact us

The Gender Policy Unit are responsible for supporting and co-ordinating actions across departments and their agencies, to implement the Gender Equality Strategy.

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