The Gender Equity Education Act (the “GEEA”) aims to encourage respect for gender diversity, eliminate gender discrimination and promote substantive gender equality through education. The GEEA charges the competent authorities (as well as schools) with establishing gender equity education committees whose tasks include drafting regulations and policies, coordinating resources, supervising gender equity-related activities and promoting research and development of curricula, teaching and assessments. Under the GEEA, schools must provide a safe, gender-fair learning environment by respecting, giving due consideration to, and not discriminating against prospective students, students, faculty, and staff of different genders. Schools shall strive towards this objective by taking steps such as integrating gender equity education into their curriculum, providing gender equity education when training new staff members, reporting known incidents of sexual assault, sexual harassment or sexual bullying within 24 hours and promptly handling and investigating such cases. Schools and any principal, faculty or staff member found to be in violation of the GEEA may be subject to a fine. Persons may also be dismissed or discharged from employment.
Women and Justice: Keywords
The Education Act of 2010 makes primary education free and compulsory for male and female children. Part 2(4)(2)(C) states that “The Minister, Principal Secretary, Teaching Service Commission, proprietors of schools, teachers and school boards shall promote the education of the people of Lesotho” and “ensure that the learner is free from any form of discrimination in accessing education.” While Part 9, Section 41 of the act establishes that at least two of the five members of the proposed Teaching Service Commission must be women.
Outlines a general plan for the creation of institutional mechanisms that will assist in the implementation of policies targeting gender inequality. Critical areas identified include economic empowerment, education, basic needs, and childbirth mortality.
Virginia’s Human Rights Act outlines the policy of the Commonwealth to “[s]afeguard all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability, in places of public accommodation,” including in education, real estate, and employment. The Act defines the “unlawful discriminatory practice” and “gender discrimination” as conduct that violates any Virginia or federal statute or regulation governing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability. The terms “because of sex or gender” or “on the basis of sex or gender” or similar terms in reference to discrimination in the Code and acts of the General Assembly include pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all purposes as persons not so affected but similar in their abilities or disabilities.
Discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited in all public colleges, community colleges, universities, and all other public institutions of higher learning in the state that are operated by the board of governors for higher education. This prohibition applies to employment, recruitment, and hiring practices, employment benefits, admissions, curricular programs, extracurricular activities including athletics, counseling, financial aid including athletic grants-in-aid, student medical, hospital, and accident or life insurance benefits, facilities, housing, rules and regulations, research, and all other school functions and activities. Notwithstanding these prohibitions, schools may do the following: (i) maintain separate but comparable restrooms, dressing, and shower facilities for males and females, including reasonable use of staff of the same sex as the users of these facilities; (ii) provide separate teams for contact sports or for sports where selection for teams is based on competitive skills, provided that equal athletic opportunities which effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of both sexes are made available; (iii) maintain separate housing for men and women, provided that housing for students of both sexes is as a whole both proportionate in quantity to the number of students of that sex that apply for housing and comparable in quality and cost to the student; and (iv) permit the establishment and operation of university based social fraternities and sororities.
The Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination in certain settings on the grounds of any designated attribute, including sex, sexuality, marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, and breastfeeding. Unlike in other Australian jurisdictions, “gender identity” and “sex characteristics” are not included as designated attributes in the Northern Territory. The settings in which discrimination based on a designated attribute is prohibited include: education, work, accommodation, provision of goods, services and facilities, clubs, and superannuation. Discrimination includes any distinction, restriction, or preference made based on a designated attribute that has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity, and harassment based on a designated attribute. Certain exceptions from the prohibition of discrimination exist, including: certain religious circumstances; provision of rights or privileges connected to childbirth; and discrimination aimed at reducing disadvantage. Alleged victims of prohibited discrimination can lodge a complaint against the discriminating person or entity, which will trigger a conciliation. If the matter is not resolved through conciliation, the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner may assess the complaint. If the Commissioner finds that the complaint is substantiated, the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal can order that the discriminator pay compensation to the victim, discontinue the discriminating behavior, or do any other act specified by the Tribunal.
Section 7 (Gender Equity, Equality and Empowerment) provides for: (a) gender equality through gender policy aimed at the elimination of structural gender biases and increased participation in education; (b) strengthening the activities of Ministry of Gender Development and women’s rights NGOs; (c) adequate protection from violence through penal and civil sanctions; (d) protection of female children, notably from female genital mutilation, early marriage, and teenage pregnancy; (e) increasing women’s participation in labour force and policy and economic institutions; (f) elimination of legal and customary practices which are barriers to ownership of land, capital and other property; and (g) establishing reproductive health services.
HIV, Control of the Disease and Related Issues (Amending Title 33) (the “Law”), institutes various government initiatives and provides guidance in dealing with HIV-related issues specifically affecting women. For example, the Law provides that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and/or National AIDs Commission (the “Health Institutions”) must take into consideration differences in sex and gender when providing education about HIV. Additionally, the Law lists a number of key issues which the Health Institutions should address in their strategies and programs for protecting and fulfilling the human rights of women in the context of HIV. These include:The equality of women in public and domestic life (Section 18.9(i));Sexual and reproductive rights, including the concept of consent and a woman’s right to refuse sex and her right to request safe sex (Section 18.9(ii));A woman’s right to independently utilise sexual health services (Section 18.9(ii));Increasing educational, economic, employment and leadership opportunities for women (Section 18.9(iii));Strategies for reducing differences in formal and customary law which prejudice women’s rights (Section 18.9(v)); andThe impact of harmful traditional practices on women (Section 18.9(vi)).
Furthermore, the Law directs the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Justice, and the Liberian National Police to implement educational programs for their personnel in relation to sexual assault perpetrated on women. These are designed to provide personnel working for these government agencies with a better understanding of sexual assault and protect the rights of sexual assault victims.
Art. 8 of the Constitution provides that all people are equal and no person may be discriminated against because of gender. The Constitution also states that men and women have equal rights and the law shall ensure their equality. Art. 35 provides for protection of fundamental rights even in private relationships.
Domestic Case Law
The plaintiff-appellants’ sons were members of their middle school basketball team who were victims of sexual harassment by their teammates. The harassment ranged from arguably innocent locker room pranks to sexual violence. The plaintiffs sued the Wayne County Board of Education, alleging that the school board was deliberately indifferent to student-on-student sexual harassment in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. The District Court denied the defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law and awarded the plaintiffs $100,000 each in damages. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiffs had established the following elements of a deliberate indifference claim: that the sexual harassment was so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it could be said to deprive the plaintiff of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school; that the funding recipient (i.e. the board of education) had actual knowledge of the sexual harassment, and the funding recipient was deliberately indifferent to the harassment.