[/ The 2012 Equality Summit was held on 22-23 November in Cyprus, gathering more than 300 participants (government, NGOs, social partners, academics, independent experts, etc.) from EU Member States and acceding countries. /]
This year’s topic “Equality for Growth” was an attempt to reflect the dramatic impact that the cuts in public finances have had on the most vulnerable groups in society. Therefore the Summit focused on providing evidence for the fact that accessibility and equality policies contribute to economic growth, economic development and prosperity. Equinet was present at this important event, being represented in many of the discussions.
On the first day of the Summit, Jozef De Witte, Chair of the Equinet Board and Director of the Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunities participated in the panel discussion on the contribution of equality and accessibility policies to the EU 2020 Strategy. He stressed the integral position of equality legislation in the general equality infrastructure, which apart from equality legislation encompasses equality bodies, civil society and social partner organisations. He also pointed to some institutional barriers that hamper Equality bodies in their work. Firstly, equality bodies would need to receive sufficient funding in order to realise their full potential. Secondly, Equality bodies that play tribunal type functions would need to be empowered to impose dissuasive sanctions that are legally binding.
On Friday 23 November, Equinet Board Advisor Niall Crowley participated in the plenary concerning the economic case for diversity and the benefits of antidiscrimination policies. The day was concluded with a speech by Mandana Zarrehparvar from the Danish Institute of Human Rights. She also stressed the central role that Equality bodies play in making the equality legislation work, although warning that this role can only be carried out if the effectiveness and independence of the Equality bodies are protected. Nevertheless, she concluded on a positive note, summarizing her vision of the role of equality bodies: “Equality bodies in particular should make the link between the different stakeholders and between the duty bearers and the rights holders. And focus of these partnerships should be on effective implementation, raising awareness on rights and on making the business case for promotion of equality.”
Download the full speech by Mandana Zarrehparvar and the presentation by Niall Crowley below:
Presentation by Niall CrowleySpeech by Mandana ZarrehparvarSpeech by Jozef De Witte