Equinet in 2021Ensuring that equality and non-discrimination remain on the agenda. 2021 will be a pivotal year for Equinet and equality in Europe, as the region strives to rebuild its societies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of us, 2020 was a difficult year with many challenges that transformed the socio-political landscape in Europe. From the effects of the virus and the measures employed to combat it, to the widespread anti-racism protests stemming from George Floyd’s murder by police in the US, the imperative to uphold the principle of equality and non-discrimination has rarely been clearer. Equinet addressed these concerns in its 2020 Recommendation, urging national and regional policymakers to approach the pandemic as an opportunity to rebuild fair, equal, and resilient societies by making sure that no one is left behind. During 2021, Equinet will build on this Recommendation and continue to pursue its work on values-based messaging to promote the appreciation of equality and diversity as core values in Europe. We will share the knowledge and learning from the work of equality bodies extensively with leaders and decisionmakers to ensure that equality is an intrinsic part of the response to the current crises in Europe.
In 2021, several Equinet activities will focus on combatting structural and systemic discrimination at the national and regional levels by building on the experience and expertise of equality bodies. Equinet will create a multi-annual cluster of equality bodies focusing on equality mainstreaming to inform and generate discussions with, and action by, stakeholders at the EU and Member State level. The Network will also bring equality bodies together to work on the use of positive action measures as ways to achieve full equality in practice and fight structural and systemic discrimination at the national level. Furthermore, given the global outcry against the racism prevalent in our societies, Equinet will develop a report and organise a conference on tackling institutional racism with the aim of critically reflecting on the role and capacities of equality bodies to confront and dismantle institutional racism in Europe.
Innovation is at the heart of equality bodies’ work as they use their special status to be centres of excellence on equality issues. One innovative activity Equinet has planned for 2021 involves working on the relatively under-researched area of access to healthcare through the perspective of considering how equality bodies can assist victims of discrimination in this field. Another new topic for Equinet in 2021 will be exploring how equality bodies can engage with authorities at the local level, such as municipalities and cities across Europe, to promote better equality policies and practices. In 2021, Equinet will also examine how the expansion of the list of protected grounds, in particular through the inclusion of health status and socio-economic status, could enhance the effectiveness of the European anti-discrimination legal framework and its implementation.
2021 will mark the third year of Equinet’s Project on Standards for Equality Bodies, which focuses on how to support the implementation of the standards for equality bodies developed by the European Commission in its 2018 Recommendation, and those provided in the revised General Policy Recommendation No. 2 produced by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe in 2017. These standards are one of the most positive developments for equality bodies in recent years and their proper implementation will help national equality bodies reach their full potential as champions of equality in Europe.
It is significant that many of the activities in this workplan are classed as horizontal issues. To work towards an equal Europe, we need to make sure discriminated groups are not considered mutually exclusive. As equality bodies can have diverse mandates, covering different grounds, it is important to take into account the ways they intersect in order to support policy and legal improvements suited for the specific needs of groups victims of multiple, intersecting grounds of discrimination. Therefore, in 2021, although this Workplan has adopted a ground-based approach, Equinet will continue to apply the lens of intersectionality throughout its work. Moreover, in this Workplan, each Equinet activity is linked to its respective UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), underlining our commitment to work to assist equality bodies’ work on SDGs and strengthen their capacity in leading European countries towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As we embark upon this vital period of rebuilding our societies, we continue to make central, through strengthened cooperation, the values we hold dear as a Network – respect, equality and justice. Together we can achieve equality for all.
Equinet in 2020
Bringing the network into a new decade. 2020 is a year of turning points for Equinet and equality in Europe. A new European Parliament has been elected and a new Commission has been put together, bringing new opportunities, particularly in the nomination of a Commissioner solely focused on equality. During the year, Equinet will pursue its work on values-based messaging to promote the appreciation of equality and diversity as core values in Europe, and share the knowledge and learning from the work of equality bodies extensively with these new leaders and decision-makers to advance equality in Europe.
2020 sees the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Race Equality Directive 2000/43/EC. To feed into the evaluation of its implementation, Equinet will organize a conference to celebrate the stipulation of equality bodies in EU law in 2000 and discuss the potential, achievements and challenges of equality bodies over the past 20 years. The conference will also address the standards for equality bodies developed by the European Commission in its 2018 Recommendation, and those provided in the revised General Policy Recommendation No. 2 produced by the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe in 2017. These standards are one of the most positive developments for equality bodies in recent years. Equinet’s project on standards for equality bodies will focus on how to support their implementation, in order to help national equality bodies reach their full potential as champions of equality in Europe.
2020 also marks the 13th anniversary of Equinet. Equinet is working towards an increasingly resilient, engaged and innovative Network. With the introduction of a new membership and network development officer role, we will reinforce our engagement with members, improve internal communication and support, as well as provide more targeted information about the work of equality bodies to relevant audiences.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was set out in 2015. By 2020, five years have passed since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the UN General Assembly, and although some progresses have been noted, many of the targets are not set to be reached before the deadline. The work of equality bodies can have a substantive impact in accelerating the process, and as the SDGs are gaining more importance in Europe, Equinet and its members will seize this momentum to assert their potential in advancing the 2030 agenda. Equality bodies have, since their creation, actively contributed in reducing inequalities, and hold the tools to both support the implementation of the SDGs and monitor their progress in European countries. Equinet will work to assist equality bodies’ work on SDGs and strengthen their capacity in leading European countries towards their achievement.
2020 evokes the perfect academic grade, 20/20. It is a score that Equinet hopes to see Europe acquire on equality issues. To work towards an equal Europe, we need to make sure discriminated groups are not considered mutually exclusive. Although equality bodies can have diverse mandates, covering different grounds, it is important to take into account the ways they intersect in order to support policy and legal improvements suited for the specific needs of groups victims of multiple, intersecting grounds of discrimination. Therefore, in 2020, although this Workplan has adopted a ground-based approach, Equinet will continue to apply the lens of intersectionality throughout its work.
As we enter into this new decade, with a new European Commission and a new European Parliament, we continue to make central, through strengthened cooperation, the values we hold dear as a Network – respect, equality and justice. Together we can achieve equality for all.
Strategic Plan 2019-2022
Equinet, as a strong, engaged and innovative network, will continue to strengthen and support equality bodies and act as their expert voice to advance equality and non-discrimination in Europe. Our goal is to enable national equality bodies to fulfil their full potential to support people experiencing discrimination and to achieve substantive equality for all. Considering the increasingly challenging political, demographic and digital environment across Europe, enhancing the role of equality bodies as key champions for equality and safeguards for non-discrimination is more crucial than ever.
This Strategic Plan gives practical expression to our hopes and ambitions for the next four years. It should position Equinet to assist equality bodies to respond to the changing societal, political and policy landscape in relation to the equality and equal treatment sector in Europe. Over the 2019 – 2022 period, we look to build upon our past successes and learnings to guide our future work in a way that is coherent and progressive. Our network will seek to extend its reach within equality bodies to engage with the future generations of leaders within our members. We will also strategically broaden our institutional relations with a wider range of stakeholders at European and international level, and maximise the potential in new developments in a challenging context for equality. By the end of 2022, we will have enhanced the strategic and operational capacity of equality bodies, strengthened the knowledge and expertise of equality body staff, as well as the operational and institutional capacity of the Equinet Secretariat. We aim to see an increasing influence of the learning from the work of equality bodies on policy, programmes and practice for a more equal Europe. We will consolidate a sustainable and resilient network of strong equality bodies at the cutting edge of work on equality issues and aim for a wider recognition of Equinet and equality bodies’ vital role as catalysts towards full equality for all in Europe.