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The government of the United Kingdom

The Women’s National Commission

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Wendy Stokes

This chapter focuses on two significant stages in the creation of national machineries for women within government in the United Kingdom. The first phase was in the 1960s and 1970s, when anti-discrimination and equal pay legislation was accompanied by the creation of the Equal Opportunities Commissions (EOC) in England, Scotland and Wales, and the UK-wide Women's National Commission (WNC). However, the second significant phase in the creation of the national machinery only came after the 1997 general election, when the new Labour government established a Minister for Women at Cabinet level, supported by a more junior Minister for Women and a Women's Unit (WU). The establishment of the Ministers for Women and the WU by the incoming Labour government in 1997 marked not only a new phase in gender policy making, but also a new approach.