Our new report ‘Exploring positive action as a means to fight structural discrimination in Europe’ explains the importance of positive action measures, and how they can be used to redress systemic discrimination.
A substantive approach to equality aims to treat everyone as equal in the face of long-term disadvantages, which actually result in the perpetuation of said disadvantages. Sometimes it is necessary to adhere to unequal treatment to achieve genuine equality by:
Positive action measures are proportionate measures undertaken with the purpose of achieving full and effective equality in practice for members of groups that are socially or economically disadvantaged, or otherwise face the consequences of past or present discrimination or disadvantage. It deliberately uses one or more of the protected grounds such as race or gender to remedy the past harms against people from disadvantaged groups, compensate for ongoing disadvantage, prevent that disadvantage from happening and to ensure full equality. In this sense, it is a fundamental tool to fight against structural discrimination.
In 2014, the Equinet Equality Law in Practice Working Group produced a paper entitled Positive Action Measures: The Experience of Equality Bodies. It concentrated on examples of positive action from national legislation.
This new report gives an update on that body of work, delving into the practice, and providing a more profound theoretical background to better understand these measures and their patterns. ‘Exploring positive action as a means to fight structural discrimination in Europe‘ explains how positive action differs from other measures in anti-discrimination law, describes the EU and international legislative framework, including case law, and draws upon the experiences of Equinet’ s members and how it is understood in national legislation, providing an overview of the grounds and fields in which positive action is being implemented and introducing the role of Equality Bodies, with a particular focus on the field of employment It delves into some of the most problematic issues regarding positive action, such as monitoring and measuring their success and the national debates surrounding this kind of measure, as well as giving practical points to keep in mind when designing positive action measures.
This report was launched at a webinar on 10 May.