Our commitment to collaboration means being responsive to the needs and demands of those on the frontlines of the fight against inequality. This is essential if we are to be accountable and if our work is to be relevant, effective and impactful. In recent years, we have increasingly received requests from others for support in using equality law, in two different ways.
First, civil society organisations working to combat discrimination for specific groups have sought our help in using equality law as a tool in their advocacy. Ensuring equality for all requires a focus on the challenges facing individual groups, whether this be the barriers preventing access to work for persons with disabilities, the prejudice which underpins patterns of racial discrimination or the impacts of structural ageism. Accordingly, while our primary focus is on supporting movements for comprehensive equality law, we want to ensure we can support any organisation seeking to use equality law to address inequalities affecting particular groups or arising in specific sectors.
Second, organisations focused on advancing equality in other ways increasingly recognise the need to understand the role of discrimination in frustrating their efforts. Our work with Transparency International on the links between discrimination and corruption demonstrates the benefits of such analysis and the potential for equality law to provide solutions. More broadly, there is a growing focus among civil society, business and public sector organisations on addressing issues of equality, diversity and inclusion in the way in which they work. We want to support organisations who are seeking to be more equality sensitive in their work, enabling them to use equality law and standards in their programmes, policies, and practice.
How will we achieve our objective?
Our work to achieve this objective will be demand-led, responding to the needs of others, through a combination of support and advisory services:
- Research and analysis: We will develop, design and deliver research initiatives in response to requests from equality organisations. In order to maximise impact and avoid duplication, our focus will be on research which we are uniquely placed to undertake: global, collaborative and comparative research to document patterns of discrimination and inequality arising on multiple grounds; interdisciplinary research to explore the links between discrimination and other harms; and analysis on the interpretation and application of international legal standards on equality.
- Training, guidance and support: We will provide training, technical guidance and support to civil society organisations in response to requests for assistance with the use and application of equality laws. Our focus will be on where we can add value as an actor with expertise in the interpretation and application of international legal standards on equality, including at its intersection with other rights. Where we judge that training or guidance is better provided by others within our network, we will make connections and support others to do this work.
- Equality in practice: We will work with civil society organisations, businesses and public bodies who are seeking to be more equality sensitive in their ways of working, supporting them to integrate an equality by design approach into their work. Equality by design is an approach to the planning, design and implementation of activities which enables potential or actual equality impacts to be identified, assessed and addressed on a proactive, pre-emptive, precautionary and consultative basis. It is a means through which civil society and businesses can address issues of diversity and inclusion in a way which is consistent with international legal standards on equality.
What will be the outcome?
Ultimately, we aim to ensure that those wanting to use the law to advance equality are able to do so effectively.
We will achieve this through (1) ensuring that activists and movements seeking support with the use of equality laws to address specific issues or promote the rights of particular groups receive the assistance they need; and (2) ensuring that organisations seeking to improve their practice on issues of discrimination, inclusion and equality have increased understanding of equality by design.