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The Commission Action Plan to tackle the gender pay gap in 2018-2019 adopted on 20 November 2017 announced that the Commission would assess the possibility of strengthening the enforcement role of equality bodies, for instance by clarifying the requirements under the gender Recast Directive and/or setting horizontal standards for equality bodies. The initiative also follows-up on the European Pillar of Social Rights notably its principles two, three and seventeen on gender equality, equal opportunities and inclusion of people with disabilities. More broadly, this initiative will support the Commission 2017 Communication on ’EU law: better results through better application’ and the 2017 EU Justice Scoreboard by strengthening equality bodies, considering the key role that equality bodies play in a comprehensive implementation and enforcement of EU equality legislation.

 

Dublin, 22 March 2018: Today, Equinet - European Network of Equality Bodies and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission are hosting the conference Poverty and discrimination: two sides of the same coin in Dublin.

 

As part of the awareness raising campaign for the International Decade, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is organizing five regional meetings. Such meetings focus on trends, priorities and challenges at the national and regional levels to effectively implement the Decade’s Programme of Activities. The meetings are also an occasion to exchange good practices.

This second regional meeting on 23-24 November in Geneva provided an opportunity to reflect on ways and means that governments from Europe, Central Asia and North America in partnership with equality bodies, national human rights institutions, civil society, development agencies and regional organizations, may pursue to integrate the provisions of the Programmes of Activities in their policies, programmes and strategies tailored for people of African descent.

 

In the report Harassment on the basis of Gender and Sexual Harassment (2014), national equality bodies flag the need to build a culture of rights to ensure that the rights we have on paper according to EU and national law become a reality on the ground.

 

On 17th and 18th October 2017, the UN Office for Human Rights (OHCHR), the International Disability Alliance (IDA), the European Disability Forum (EDF) and Equinet co-organised a technical workshop on engaging with the UNCRPD Committee.

 

 

Equality Bodies

The Finnish National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal has determined that a person was discriminated against in the granting of consumer credit because no individual assessment of the person’s solvency was carried out. The creditor only assessed the solvency on the basis of background information, such as age, gender, place of residence and native language. The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman had submitted the case to the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal for consideration. The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman considers the decision of the tribunal important and expects creditors to change their practices.

 

Before 4 June, the Day of Civil Freedoms and Rights, Commissioner for Human Rights submitted to the Parliament their annual report on the state of observance of civil rights and freedoms in Poland.

 

A study visit of the Albanian Commissioner for the Protection from Discrimination (CPD) office, Ombudsman/People’s Advocate office and Ministry of Health and Social Protection to Brussels, Belgium took place from 7 to 9 May 2018.

Funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe, they got to meet with Equinet on the last day.

 

The Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson in Lithuania just started the “Price Has No Gender” campaign to raise awareness about the fact that the same beauty and leisure services are priced differently for women and men, even though it is against equal treatment laws in Lithuania.

 

The Austrian Ombud for Equal Treatment celebrates its 27th year in 2018, which also marks the 15th anniversary of the implementation of European legislation on the setting up of equality bodies.
This symposium aimed to address some of the hot topics in the context of anti-discrimination law and equality bodies, as well as celebrate the retirement of the outgoing Ombud, Ingrid Nikolay-Leitner.

 

 

Europe

On 2 October 2018, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) presented two new monitoring reports on the Republic of Moldova and Portugal. In both reports, ECRI analyse recent developments and outstanding issues and provide recommendations to the respective authorities.

 

Equinet attended the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), in Warsaw, Poland.

 

According to a 2015 Eurobarometer survey, around 12% of people in Europe consider themselves at risk of discrimination. In fact, any person in Europe could potentially fall victim to this injustice, write Birgit Van Hout from the regional representative for Europe of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and Tena Šimonović Einwalter from Equinet.

 

The European Commission’s Recommendation on standards for equality bodies is a key step in guaranteeing that equality bodies can fulfil their potential to work independently and effectively as valuable catalysts for more equal societies. Equinet and national equality bodies call on Member States to follow the Commission’s recommendations, and on the Commission to ensure strong and effective monitoring of its Recommendation.

 

Each year on 17 May, the international community celebrates the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). While it is a day of celebration of the vast diversity of people’s sexualities, gender identities and sex characteristics, and of the legal and social advances concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in the past two decades, it is also a day to raise awareness on existing widespread discrimination and violence in many countries. As in previous years, this article explains the importance of IDAHOT, the highlights of this day and the contribution of equality bodies to the advancement of equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity to date.