Affirmative (positive) action
Affirmative (positive) action comprises special temporary measures to redress the effects of past discrimination in order to establish de facto equality of opportunity and treatment between men and women. Such measures are targeted at a particular group. They are intended to eliminate and prevent discrimination, and to offset disadvantages arising from existing attitudes, behaviour and structures based on stereotypes concerning the division of social roles between men and women. The adoption of such policies stems from the observation that the legal banning of discrimination has not proved sufficient to create equity in the world of work.
Affirmative action in favour of women should not be considered as discriminatory against men in a transitional period. Once the consequences of past discrimination have been rectified, the measures should be removed to prevent discrimination against men. Positive action may encompass a wide range of measures, including corrective action such as:
Affirmative action may be more effective when it is developed and applied through cooperation between the government, and the employers and trade unions concerned; when it suits the needs and possibilities of the employees and employers; and when it is effectively monitored and followed up with adequate government resources. The government should play a leading role in implementing such programmes for public sector employment.
Affirmative action should also involve the recognition that many men are equal to women in terms of advocating and promoting gender equality, and may be especially good at involving other men.
→ see also Employment policy and promotion, Job description and Occupational segregation
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