You know how we got the Sex Discrimination Act and the Equal Pay at Work Act and now the Gender Equality Duty? Well apparently it doesn’t mean much because (and this is a word of warning to the wise) it’s still assumed a man is in charge.
I don’t normall blog personal stories but this is just too infuriating to not pass on. My partner of sometime was added to my Council Tax account last year because he’s named on the tenancy agreement and therefore is jointly liable. So far so good. This year, however, my local council bumped him up from second named person to first named. We didn’t really notice and payed the bill as we always did. Now they say because he’s first named he’s the only one who can sort things out. But hang on, this was my account and he was added, yep tough. As a testicle owner he is assumed to be either the main wage-earner, the person who sorts things out and “responsible” for me. I don’t even get to be called by my own name when they ring me to tell me this, I am now, apparently, “Mrs HisForename HisSurname” (which despite getting wed I am not).
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a testicle-hating-dungaree-wearing-stereotype. But I am a professionally qualified, high earning woman with the ability to do my job a damn site better than they do theirs. And I have a right to 1. my own name, 2. pay my (or our) own bills and have that acknowledges and 3. complain in my own right when they screw up.
So the Gender Equality Duty which states “All public authorities in England, Wales and Scotland must demonstrate that they are promoting equality for women and men and that they are eliminating sexual discrimination and harassment.” (From the EOC) Seems to me to be a paper-exercise which doesn’t really make a change. After all surely it’s a basic human right, not just a gendered one, to have an entitlement to your own legal, personal existence in dealing with public bodies?