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Home >> Equinet Activities >> Events >> Advancing Equality: The Potential of Equality Duties

Advancing Equality: The Potential of Equality Duties

March 28th 2017

Equinet Conference

This conference, which took place on 4 May in Brussels, set out to share the experiences of implementing equality duties, as well as good practice examples and discuss possibilities and challenges in introducing such duties in other jurisdictions.

Background

In 2016, Equinet commissioned research assessing the prevalence and state of play of equality duties in Europe. The study Making Europe More Equal: A Legal Duty? concludes that there are mainly three categories of statutory duties in place in Europe today; preventive, institutional and mainstreaming duties.

The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe has suggested that statutory equality duties form part of “a new generation of [equality] legislation […] beginning to emerge in response to limitations experienced in the implementation of current and previous provisions.” Each of the statutory duties identified in the study has its own design and significant achievements in progressing both institutional and societal change.

Nevertheless, the study highlights that “[t]here is an uneven spread and development of these statutory duties. Their geographical spread is significant but not comprehensive. Their ambition differs in different jurisdictions. A broad diversity of approaches in devising and implementing statutory duties is evident.”

Equinet is therefore committed to exploring the potential and current context for such duties, and is therefore is organizing a conference to discuss the contribution of statutory equality duties to advancing equality, looking at what is in place across Europe and how the learning from this can be used to contribute to institutional and societal change.

Objectives

The conference aimed to:

  • Provide a platform to discuss the experiences obtained in implementing equality duties
  • Present the conclusions of the 2016 Equinet research “Making Europe More Equal: A Legal Duty?”
  • Promote equality duties as an effective tool to advance equality in all jurisdictions

Conference Summaries

Conference Summary (PDF)
Conference Summary (PDF)
Conference Summary (Word)
Conference Summary (Word)
Easy to Read Summary
Easy to Read Summary


Conference Booklet

Booklet (Agenda, Participants, Bios)
Booklet (Agenda, Participants, Bios)


Equality Duties photo collage  (Click to enlarge picture)

Speakers’ Presentations

OPENING SESSION

  • Welcome and opening - Evelyn Collins, Chair of Equinet, Chief Executive of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
  • Keynote address: Why recommend legislation to place a duty on public authorities to promote equality? - Stefano Valenti, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), Council of Europe

SESSION 1 - Setting the Scene – State of Play of Equality Duties in Europe

Chair: Evelyn Collins, Chair of Equinet, Chief Executive of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

SESSION 2 PANEL DISCUSSION: Looking Forward – Possibilities for Introducing Equality Duties

Chair: Catherine Naughton, European Disability Forum

Participants:

  • Alvaro Oliveira (Gender Unit, DG Justice, European Commission)
  • Stefano Valenti (ECRI)
  • Louise Warde Hunter (Northern Ireland Civil Service)
  • Rita Žemaitytė-Tack (Ministry of Social Security and Labour, Lithuania)
  • Eileen Lavery (Equality Commission for Northern Ireland)
  • Eva Hodges (Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the EU)

CONCLUDING SESSION

  • Summary - Niall Crowley, Independent Expert and author of the Equinet Paper
  • Concluding Remarks - Anne Gaspard, Executive Director, Equinet

CAPACITY BUILDING FOR EQUALITY BODIES

  • Equality impact assessment based approaches - Eileen Lavery, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
  • Support and guidance to duty bearers - Tena Šimonović Einwalter, Office of the Ombudswoman, Croatia
  • Equality duties that focus on employment & education - Kirsi Pimiä, Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, Finland
  • Mainstreaming duties - Carine Joly and Jeroen Decuyper, Belgian Institute for the Equality of Women and Men


Further Reading

Making Europe more Equal: A Legal Duty? (2016)
Making Europe more Equal: A Legal Duty? (2016)


Guidelines for detecting cases of discrimination - Croatian Ombudswoman
Guidelines for detecting cases of discrimination - Croatian Ombudswoman
Compendium of practice on Non-Discrimination/ Equality Mainstreaming
Compendium of practice on Non-Discrimination/ Equality Mainstreaming
ECRI GPR No.7 on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination
ECRI GPR No.7 on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination
ECRI GPR No. 14 on combating racism and racial discrimination in employment
ECRI GPR No. 14 on combating racism and racial discrimination in employment
Justified pay difference or related to gender? (Summary) - Equality Ombudsman, Sweden
Justified pay difference or related to gender? (Summary) - Equality Ombudsman, Sweden


Photos

Advancing Equality:
 The potential of equality duties
Advancing Equality: The potential of equality duties, 4 May 2017, Brussels

Photos by Thierry Maroit.