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Equality in Europe and Finland

September 15th 2016

The Equinet Executive Board and Secretariat were invited to Helsinki on 7 September by our Finnish members, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Equality, to meet with staff members and Finnish stakeholders to discuss the work of equality bodies and common challenges for equality in Europe.


The European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) hosted the Fundamental Rights Forum in Vienna, 20-23 June. Under the motto "Rights, Respect, Reality: the Europe of Values in Today’s World", the Forum brought together practitioners, grassroots workers, thinkers and high-level decision makers to reflect on existing challenges and good practices as well as future challenges and opportunities.


In order to be independent and effective as valuable catalysts for more equal societies, Equinet and national equality bodies call for European standards on the independence, effectiveness, functions and powers of equality bodies.


On 19 April, Equinet Chair Evelyn Collins (Equality Commission for Northern Ireland) participated in a conference entitled ‘Getting the Balance Right III’, designed to openly discuss concerns around unfair discrimination with respect to insurance in the EU.


Since the beginning of the year, Equinet Chair Evelyn Collins (Equality Commission for Northern Ireland), together with members of the Equinet Secretariat, has met with a number of European policy makers in order to highlight the work of Equinet planned for 2016, to communicate the learning from the work of equality bodies on different topics and shed light on their particular relevance to specific policies and activities being planned or pursued at European level.



Equality Bodies

Norwegians are travelling to Poland this weekend to show support and solidarity with the Polish LGBT community and assorted human rights movements. Norwegian pop-punk-country band Glittermeat will be performing during the celebrations at the end of this year’s Equality parade in Warsaw.


On Sunday 13 March, Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms (Ombudsman) of Montenegro published a press release about starting an anti-discrimination campaign on the occasion of the European Action Week against Racism.


The new Norwegian Ombud for Equal Treatment, Hanne Bjurstrøm, was in Brussels last week to meet with important partners at EU level. Equinet was very pleased to have the opportunity to meet the new Ombud and accompany her throughout the day.


In October 2014, the Defender of Rights, Equinet’s French member, launched a call for a "commitment to the defence of equality in the fight against racism." Indeed, the Defender of Rights is responsible for promoting equality and fighting against discrimination. The institution is regularly called upon by stakeholders involved in fighting racism with regards to the propagation of racist remarks in spaces of public expression.


On 14 and 15 January 2016, the Austrian Disability Ombudsman, Erwin Buchinger, and his Office as well as the Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs, with the active involvement of the Federal Chamber of Labour and the Office for Opportunities & Benefits of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB), hosted an expert meeting on key equality issues for persons with disabilities and the further development of this agenda at the ÖGB Events Centre in Vienna.




On the 26th of August 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted two general comments relating to the rights of women and girls with disabilities under Article 6 and the right to inclusive education for persons with disabilities under Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).


The "HELP in the 28" Programme organised an European Seminar on the "Fight against racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia", in collaboration with the Spanish School for the Judiciary in Barcelona on 26 and 27 July.


At the June meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Counci, the progress report of the Equal Treatment Directive, as well as conclusions on gender and LGBTI equality were discussed.


The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has published conclusions on the implementation of a number of recommendations made in its country reports on Finland, the Republic of Moldova, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Russian Federation and San Marino which had been released in 2013.


The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published monitoring reports on Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Italy, Lithuania and "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" analysing recent developments and outstanding issues and providing recommendations to the authorities. Despite certain positive developments, ECRI notes, there are challenges ahead.