Sex refers to characteristics of women and men that are biologically determined. People are born male or female but learn to be girls and boys who grow into women and men (World Health Organization, Gender definitions, 2012)
Gender refers to socially constructed differences between women and men, including expectations of roles, and responsibilities, as well as differences in patterns of employment and unpaid work (World Health Organization Policy Brief 2009).
The Equality Act 2010 provides protection for women and men from all backgrounds, workforce and service delivery perspectives. The Equality Act 2010 came into force in October 2010 and provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. There are nine ‘protected characteristics’ under the Act, one of which is sex.
The Act brings together all the legal requirements on equality that the private, public and voluntary sectors need to follow and replaces all the existing equality law including gender and sex equality legislation.
From April 2011, the Act places a Public Sector Equality Duty on public authorities, including the NHS to:
- promote equality of opportunity
- eliminate discrimination and harassment
- to foster good relations