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Several equality bodies participated in this year’s Asia-Europe Meeting organized in Vilnius under the patronage of Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. The topic of the conference was women’s economic empowerment, a crucial field for the work of equality bodies in Europe where women still suffer significant economic inequalities.

 

A public hearing, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), took place on 19 May in Brussels. The aim of this hearing was to look at equal treatment, equality bodies and other possible means of redress for Roma.

 

Twenty years after the adoption of the original version of GPR No. 2: Specialised bodies to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance at national level in 1997, ECRI decided to revise its text in order to include the experience and the many good practices that have developed during this time. The revised text shall help to further strengthen specialised bodies, which are vital for advancing equality and for eliminating racism and intolerance in a sustained manner.

 

Equinet Chair Evelyn Collins met with a number of European stakeholders recently in order to update them on our work and discuss common areas of interest.

 

The Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights in Hungary hosted the kick off meeting for our project on combating violence against women on 22 March. This was followed by the Working Group meeting on Gender Equality on 23 March.

 

 

Equality Bodies

The Equinet Handbook, prepared by members of Equinet’s Working Group on Gender Equality, aims to be a practical and useful tool for anyone who works on equal pay cases, guiding you to existing resources, data, partners and arguments that have been successful in the past. It has been translated by the Office of the Ombudsman into Latvian.

 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has worked with spoken word artist George the Poet to create a powerful film looking at the role of hate crime in our society and the need for all of us to come together to challenge intolerance and report incidents of hate.


 

The Swedish Equality Ombudsman recently investigated and delivered her opinion in two cases concerning demands to shake hands in the working life. The employers involved in both cases had denied (male) applicants jobs when the applicants had declared that, according to their interpretation of Islam, they could not shake hands with persons of the opposite sex.

 

Members of the Equinet secretariat and seven members of the Equinet cluster on Quasi-Judicial Functions were hosted by the Bulgarian Commission for the Protection from Discrimination in Sofia on 31 May 2017. The purpose of the visit was to observe the procedures of the Bulgarian Commission, which has one of the most formal quasi-judicial procedures within Equinet’s membership.

 

The European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) will be meeting with the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights in their upcoming mission to Poland.

 

 

Europe

In 2016, the European Commission and four major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft) launched a Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech. On 1st June 2017, the European Commission released the results of an evaluation of the Code of Conduct. It was carried out by NGOs and public bodies in 24 EU countries. The results being presented today show that, one year after its adoption, the Code of Conduct has delivered some important progress, while some challenges remain.

 

Despite some legal and social advances in the past two decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people continue to face widespread discrimination and violence in many countries. This leads to exclusion and adversely affects both the lives of LGBTI people as well as on the communities in which they live. This article explains the importance of IDAHOT and the highlights of this day as well as the contribution of equality bodies to the advancement of equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

On 16 May 2017 the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published two country reports and four conclusions on the implementation of previous recommendations. In their publications, ECRI pays special attention to the need for independent equality bodies with sufficient resources and powers.

 

On 11 May 2017, the Council of the European Union adopted two decisions on the signing of the Council of Europe Convention (Istanbul Convention) on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Equinet warmly welcomes this decision.

 

On Wednesday 26 April, the European Commission launched its proposal for the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Commission has also put forward a number of legislative and non-legislative initiatives related to work-life balance, the information of workers, access to social protection and working time.