Fighting the Discrimination That Continues Every Day in Wales

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jane Hutt

Equalities Minister Jane Hutt says warm words are not enough to win change

IF ASKED, I'm sure the vast majority of us would say without a doubt that everyone is equal. No one should be excluded from aspects of society because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, language or because they have a disability. Most people would be in agreement with this without question.

Yet, even now in the 21st century, while this is perhaps what people say, or feel they should say, the reality is that prejudice still exists. Consciously or unconsciously discrimination continues to happen every day in Wales which shows that promoting equality must continue to be a priority for not only the Welsh Assembly Government, but society as a whole.

We cannot allow any form of discrimination to continue, or be left unchallenged. If we do so, we are complicit in perpetuating that discrimination.

The Assembly has a unique statutory duty to promote equality of opportunity for all regardless of age, disability, gender, language, race, religion or sexual orientation. This duty means that equality remains at the heart of the Assembly Government's policy-making and has led to what I believe is a distinctive equality agenda in Wales.

Last week Assembly Members had the opportunity to discuss our Equality Annual Report which highlighted the achievements we have made to date. We don't want equality to be a mere add-on to policies. It should be central to all that we do.

Last year we launched our Race Equality Scheme which is now being implemented. We worked with the Commission for Racial Equality to bring this about and my aim is that this scheme becomes a model for all of Wales' public services.

As a result of our work we have been recognised by the organisation Race for Opportunity as one of the top 10 most improved UK employers on diversity and equality issues.

The Assembly Government has also been named an Age Positive Champion for encouraging people of all ages to work at the organisation.

We will not be resting on our laurels and will soon be beginning an assessment of how the Assembly Government has promoted equality across its policies. This assessment will be the basis of the next annual report.

While I hope this work will be a model for other public services and private organisations in Wales I am aware that we need to address equality issues within our communities. …