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Equinet Working Groups

June 4th 2012


Overview

The Working Groups play a key role in the implementation of the Strategic Plan and Annual Work Plans of Equinet. The brief for each working group is set out in this Strategic Plan. The working groups are made up of staff drawn from the member organisations of Equinet.

The effective operation of the working groups is the responsibility of the moderator and working group participants, supported by the Secretariat. The activities to be implemented by the working groups are detailed in the Annual Work Plan of Equinet. Moderators of the working groups in cooperation with the Secretariat propose an annual work plan to the Board. This plan will specify objectives, activities, timelines, budgets and outputs for the working group. This is discussed and developed as necessary by the Board and presented for approval by the Annual General Meeting as part of the Annual Work Plan of Equinet.

The Executive Board, Secretariat and working group moderators ensure that the work plans identify and exploit possible synergies between working groups and that any duplication or incoherence is avoided.

The Secretariat reports on a regular basis to the Executive Board on the activities and overall progress of the working groups. The Secretariat communicates any decisions of the Executive Board made on the basis of these reports to the moderators.

Moderator: leads and guides the activities of the working group. The moderator is a member of staff of one of the member bodies and is appointed by the Board with the agreement of that member body; except for the Policy Formation Working Group where the moderator will be a member of the Board. The moderator has the appropriate skills to lead the group and to engage effectively with the issues that fall within the brief of the working group.

Working Group Members (Participants): Individual with the appropriate skills and knowledge to shape and implement the activities of a working group. Member equality bodies have the discretion to appoint suitable participants to contribute as active members of a given working group.

Policy Formation

The working group Policy Formation is Equinet’s primary platform enabling a constructive dialogue with EU institutions; a dialogue that supports policy formation at EU level to effectively promote equality, value diversity and tackle discrimination. The working group supports the dialogue between Equinet and the EU institutions through the preparation of Equinet perspectives. These perspectives seek to inform current policy development within the EU institutions in the area of equality and non-discrimination and to contribute an equality dimension to policy being developed on other issues. Equinet perspectives are fact-based, developed from the work and experience of national equality bodies at Member State level.

Current moderator: Ms. Tena Šimonović Einwalter from the Office of the Ombudswoman in Croatia

Focus in 2016

  • Discuss and produce a Perspective on age discrimination against young people, taking into account their particular situation and challenges. The Perspective will address intersectional discrimination and it will build on the experiences and case work of equality bodies. It will take into account the learnings from relevant previous Equinet Perspectives, notably Tackling Ageism and Discrimination.
  • Produce a discussion paper on intersectionality and develop this topic with a focus on gender, in consultation with the Working Group on Gender Equality. The paper will discuss addressing intersectional discrimination and promoting equality on an intersectional basis. It will serve as a basis for the Equinet conference Gender equality: an intersectional perspective.
  • Contribute to the preparation and organization of the Equinet conference Gender equality: an intersectional perspective.
  • Support dissemination, follow-up and use of previously published Equinet Perspectives including on the work done by equality bodies in order to advance equality and counter discrimination on the ground of religion and belief.

Focus in 2015

  • Discuss and produce a perspective on the contribution of equality bodies to the equal enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. This topic has gained more relevance in the context of austerity measures aggravating violations of economic, social and cultural rights, particularly with respect to groups that are more vulnerable to discrimination (migrants, older persons, disabled persons, Roma etc.). The perspective will take account of the work done by equality bodies in the field and their use of international instruments such as the European Social Charter or the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
  • Discuss and produce a perspective on the work done by equality bodies in order to advance equality and counter discrimination on the ground of religion and belief. The perspective will take account of the practices of equality bodies applying their legal, promotional, research and promotional functions as well as the political context they operate in. The perspective will inform the agenda of the Equinet seminar on the grounds of religion and belief. The work will contribute to the Council of Europe, FRA, ENNHRI and Equinet platform on economic, social and cultural rights.
  • Support dissemination, follow-up and use of previously published Equinet perspectives including the particular contribution of equality bodies to the review of the Disability Strategy at EU level.

Recent reports:

Equality Law

The working group Equality Law in Practice is Equinet’s permanent platform for legal staff of equality bodies to exchange experience, share expertise and work to improve the level of legal protection from discrimination across the EU. The working group focuses on the interpretation of complex legal problems and a comparative analysis of EU and national legislation and jurisprudence in the field of equality and anti-discrimination law.

Current moderator: Ms. Jayne Hardwick from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK

Focus in 2016

  • Discuss the work of equality bodies on discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity and multiple discrimination where race and ethnicity intersect with other grounds such as gender, religion or belief. The discussions will cover discrimination in all fields of life. The Working Group will produce a paper on some of the key challenges identified, including a focus on work done to combat discrimination against Roma people.
  • Monitor cases communicated by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to identify those that are directly relevant for equality and non-discrimination and the work of equality bodies. The Working Group will also contribute to preparing any third party interventions to the ECtHR on cases of high relevance relating to equality and non-discrimination.
  • Contribute to the preparation and organization of Equinet conferences and seminars with a legal focus.
  • Provide a platform for case workers of equality bodies to request information and advice from each other relating to specific cases.

Focus in 2015

  • Conduct an analysis of the (potential) contribution and work of equality bodies in the field of freedom of movement for workers and nationality-based discrimination in the context of the EU Directive 2014/54/EU. The Working Group will compare the legal provisions and case law relating to nationality-based discrimination in the different countries and it will discuss good practice in the field. The Working Group will produce a discussion paper on the basis of its deliberations.
  • Monitor cases communicated by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the European Court of Justice (CJEU) to identify those that are directly relevant for equality and non-discrimination and the work of equality bodies. Subject to the adoption of internal procedures for this by the Equinet General Assembly and according to its rules, the Working Group will contribute to preparing third party interventions to the ECtHR on cases of high relevance relating to equality and non-discrimination.
  • Contribute to the preparation and organization of Equinet conferences and seminars with a legal focus.
  • Provide a platform for case workers of equality bodies to request information and advice from each other relating to specific cases.


Recent outputs:

Gender Equality

The working group Gender Equality is Equinet’s platform for staff members of equality bodies that are working on gender issues. It aims to enable discussion, reflection and action on the effective promotion of gender equality and to combat gender discrimination by equality bodies. The working group will initially consider the mapping exercise carried out by the Secretariat on the current initiatives at EU level in relation to gender equality with a view to establishing the particular added value Equinet can bring to this field of work.

Current moderator: Ms. Theresa Hammer from the Austrian Ombud for Equal Treatment

Focus in 2016

  • Discuss the best strategies to deal with equal pay complaints, and publish a handbook on how to build a case on equal pay
  • Outline the experience of equality bodies in relation to gender equality and education, and contribute to the preparation and organization of the Seminar ‘Gender Equality and Education’
  • Assist the Working Group Policy Formation in preparing a paper on intersectionality with a focus on gender
  • Relay the experience of equality bodies and contribute to the preparation and organization of the Equinet conference on ‘Gender equality: an intersectional perspective’.

Focus in 2015

  • Discuss the experience of equality bodies working on gender equality and how their learning could inform a new Gender Equality Strategy for the EU. The Working Group will conduct an analysis of the experience of equality bodies working on the ground of gender and related grounds and produce a perspective on the basis of its deliberations.
  • Contribute to the preparation and organization of the Equinet conference on a new gender equality strategy for the EU.
  • Discuss the experience of equality bodies in relation to work life balance and pregnancy and parenthood-related discrimination and contribute to the preparation and organization of the Equinet Seminar on this topic.
  • Discuss the experience of equality bodies in building cases on equal pay for equal work and work of equal value.

Recent reports of the WG:


Communication Strategies and Practices

The working group is mandated to explore how national equality bodies can share information on and enhance their strategic approach to communication activities and build capacity in this area. This working group will serve as a platform for discussion, reflection and action on the effective development of communication strategies and activities by equality bodies. It will focus on the work of members in raising awareness of equality, rights and obligations among the general public and the groups experiencing discrimination.

Current moderator: Ms. Katrine Gaustad Pettersen from the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud (Norway)

Focus in 2016

  • Organise thematic meetings on topical communication challenges that are presented by an expert (internal or external depending on the topic). The group will get to ask questions, identify the values-based messages and work together to develop responses to the challenges. Challenges could include: how to impart the correct information about complicated topics, how to measure the impact of the chosen communication initiative or how to communicate on topics in a not-so favourable climate.
  • Contribute to the organisation and preparation of the Training session planned for May 2016 Communicating Equality: Social media for equality bodies
  • Continue to develop the Project Library (formerly known as Media Library) internally and externally so as to provide members with concrete examples of how to develop communication actions, as well as promoting the members’ actions to a wider audience.

Focus in 2015

  • Explore the practical application of the learning from the recent project and report on Valuing Equality – How Equality Bodies can use values to create a more equal and accepting Europe. Each working group meeting will contain a session featuring a mixture of expert speakers, practical exercises and discussions led by participants. After each session participants will agree on “homework” informed by the values approach, such as running a workshop inside their equality body, practising a new skill or writing a new communications strategy. Between the meetings, participants will also be able to communicate through teleconferences or webinars to help solve problems or challenges they are experiencing in their work.
  • Use sessions during the meetings, but also webinars or teleconferences, to address communications challenges such as communicating equality effectively to the private sector, the use of social media in conditions of limited resources, effective messaging to hard-to-reach vulnerable groups, etc. These sessions will be given either by communication managers from equality bodies with expertise on these topics or by external consultants.
  • Continue to develop an interactive online media library of equality bodies’ communication tools, projects, messages, campaigns and initiatives that will serve as a resource for equality bodies in their work on raising awareness of anti-discrimination legislation, promoting equality and communicating about their work.

Recent outputs:

Strategy Development

The working group Strategy Development,running until the end of 2014, was Equinet’s platform for staff members of equality bodies concerned with strategic issues and interested in exchanging experiences and expertise. It aimed to contribute to the effective implementation of equality bodies’ mandates through analysing and evaluating the most strategic use of the diverse powers available to equality bodies.

Focus in 2014:

In 2014 the working group discussed equality bodies’ experiences with strategic planning and compiled a report pointing to good practice examples in this field. The relative scarcity of comprehensive strategic plans, litigation strategies and strategies to address specific areas or grounds of work among equality bodies was pointed out in a number of Equinet publications. The reports underlined that the absence of strategies leaves the initiatives taken by the equality body in a vacuum, actions will be isolated and mainly reactive, the impact of the actions diminished. The work took into account the paper on impact indicators published by Equinet in 2013. By compiling and analysing good practice examples in this field, the working group aimed to enhance equality bodies’ capacity to respond to the needs of vulnerable groups and to contribute to better implementation of EU anti-discrimination legislation and policies.

Recent outputs: