Antidiscrimination

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The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) has been actively involved in the recent discussions concerning the European Commission’s 2008 proposed Anti-discrimination Directive which seeks to extend anti-discrimination legislation beyond employment on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. Although sex-based discrimination is not included in the proposed Directive, the EWL welcomes it as an important step towards protecting women from discrimination on other grounds. The proposed Directive responds to and raises many issues, such as the shape of gender equality and anti-discrimination legislation in the EU, the concept of multiple discrimination and the role of equality bodies in protecting individuals’ rights. Within this context, the direction and content of this publication is informed by the EWL seminar, ‘Levelling up Gender Equality Legislation and Tackling Multiple Discrimination’ held in January 2009. This seminar allowed EWL members to discuss developments at the national level, both in relation to legislation and the mandate and effectiveness of (gender) equality bodies. The relationship between sex and other grounds of discrimination was explored as well as the current debates on multiple discrimination, intersectionality and women’s diversity. Given the participants’ high levels of expertise and experience in gender equality issues, the seminar provided a constructive forum for the exchange of knowledge and for developing EWL strategy. More specifically, this publication addresses key priorities of the EWL work on anti-discrimination. These are: • To ensure a uniform and strong legal framework for all grounds of discrimination at the European level. • To ensure that victims of multiple discrimination, who very often are women, are effectively protected by European and national legislation. • To include a gender perspective in anti-discrimination policies. • To have strong institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women and equality bodies with an effective gender equality strand. • To put women’s rights, gender equality and the fight against discrimination at the core of European and national policy and to ensure sufficient financial resources.

The article by Minto and Bach evaluates the current frameworks of gender equality and anti-discrimination legislation in the EU, with particular reference to the proposed Anti-discrimination Directive. This analysis concerns the steps required to progress towards de facto equality between women and men in all areas. Carles’ article examines the concepts of multiple discrimination and gendered discrimination. This is undertaken with reference to empirical research concerning the different experiences of women and men who are subject to racial discrimination. It includes evaluation of both the legal and institutional frameworks required to strengthen protection against discrimination. Crowley’s article explores the crucial role of equality bodies in the promotion of gender equality. It includes an overview of the challenges faced by equality bodies which undermine their independence and effectiveness, particularly in the context of the financial and economic crisis. Brussels, February 2010

This publication has been designed as a practical tool for all actors involved in policy-making, particularly those who are working to promote gender equality and anti-discrimination. This includes decision-makers, equality bodies, NGOs and legal practitioners working at European, national and regional levels. The focus of this document is solely upon addressing issues surrounding non-discrimination legislation in the EU. However, the EWL firmly believes that achieving substantive equality between women and men goes far beyond non-discrimination. Legislation and policy mesures beyond equal treatment: as well as the need to develop equality policies based on an intersectional approach are key to the commitment and the work the EWL conducts but will...
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