During 2023 we have engaged with equality activists, advocates and academics in every region of the world. These discussions and collaborations have identified two key drivers for our work: the challenge faced by those working for the adoption and implementation of comprehensive and effective equality laws; and the demand from thoseworking to promote equality – for specific groups, in particular contexts or in different ways – to use and apply the law in their work.
Through listening to those on the frontline of this fight we have identified four obstacles – or gaps – which must be addressed:
- The protection gap: Despite the growing consensus at the international level on the need for comprehensive equality laws, still more than half the countries in the world do not have laws which provide effective and comprehensive protection from all forms of discrimination on all grounds and in all areas of life and promote and advance equality in practice,
- The implementation gap: In those States which have enacted equality laws, gaps in awareness, enforcement and implementation mean that rights-holders are often unable to secure remedy and sanction, while the potential of the law to not only remedy but prevent discrimination and to advance full equality in practice remains largely unrealised.
- The application gap: The rapid pace of change in many spheres of our lives and the major challenges which our societies continue to face – whether from new phenomena such as climate change or the increased use of algorithmic decision-making or longstanding problems such as economic inequality – demand new responses from equality law.
- The practice gap: Organisations working to advance equality or promote rights for marginalised groups are not making full and effective use of equality law, while those working to address the causes and consequences of inequality in different ways – from fighting corruption to promoting sustainable development – are not always using equality law as a tool.
Our work in the next five years will aim to respond to these challenges and to meet the needs and demands of equality activists and advocates.
- Responding to the protection gap, we will promote the adoption of comprehensive equality laws.
- Responding to the implementation gap, we will strengthen the implementation of equality laws.
- Responding to the application gap, we will support the development of equality law in response to new challenges.
- Responding to the practice gap, we will support the use of equality law and standards by civil society, business and public bodies.