Equinet has released its 2013 Annual Report, highlighting the increased focus on gender in the work of the network, and its contribution to the European Commission’s Review of the Anti-Discrimination Directives. The report also illustrates how our network works, what are its main objectives, and the main activities and milestones throughout the year.
2013 seals an important moment in the life of Equinet with an enhanced focus on gender equality brought into the work of Equinet following the incorporation of the work of the former Network of Gender Equality Bodies (previously led and facilitated by the European Commission).
Equinet was thus able to increase its range of activities with an annual seminar and a training event on gender equality. A new Working Group on Gender Equality was also created and added to Equinet’s existing four thematic groups, providing a dedicated platform for exchange and collaboration on the topic for over 24 experts from gender equality bodies in 20 European countries. Finally, the Equinet Secretariat was also able to expand and welcome a new Policy Officer to support this increased focus on gender equality.
Continue reading about the issues addressed in our events on gender and through the working group on page 5 of the report.
“In my view gender equality bodies are one the most important key players in ensuring and promoting women’s rights at different levels of society. I am already looking forward to future events for dialogue and exchange of information, experiences and expertise between representatives from national equality bodies and EU institutions."
Testimonial for Annual Report 2013 from MEP Mikael Gustafsson, Chair of the Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) in the European Parliament
Equinet’s Working Group on Equality Law in Practice prepared a Report on the Implementation of the Race and General Framework Directives on the basis of the experiences of the equality bodies pointing to areas which could usefully be strengthened or interpreted in the directives or which presented particular difficulties:
1. Parity between the Directives: the Race Directive prohibits discrimination in a much wider variety of areas and it introduces a requirement for all Member States to set up an equality body. The hierarchy of protection at EU level can cause problems in practice.
2. Equality bodies: the existence of various difficulties and challenges faced by equality bodies in their work suggests that there is a need for stronger standards for equality bodies to guarantee their independence and effectiveness in practice.
3. Definitions: the meaning of some provisions in the Directives could be further interpreted and defined by the courts to ensure a clear and uniform understanding of the terms, for example the definition of disability and discrimination by association.
4. Sanctions: although both Directives require sanctions for discrimination that are effective, proportionate and dissuasive, the definition of these terms is unclear and there are wide variances in the sanctions applied in discrimination cases among Member States.
5. Possible new provisions: the report suggests that consideration is given to amending the Directives to ensure specific protection against multiple discrimination and to protect volunteers against discrimination.
Among others, this report informed the European Commission’s work in preparing its assessment of the implementation of the directives (published in January 2014), underlining that strengthening the role of the national equality bodies as watchdogs for equality, allowing them to reach their full potential and enhancing their effectiveness can go a long way towards promoting equal treatment.
The report also contains information about achievements and progress made to strengthen policy exchanges with EU institutions and other stakeholders, and to effectively support the work of national equality bodies. Finally, sections on governance, finances, and contact details for each member equality body provide readers with useful information on Equinet’s work.
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