RFSD 2019 SDG 10 Session 2

SDG 10, SESSION 2 “Towards a World of Equal Opportunity: Tackling inequality caused by exclusion and discrimination

Dear all,

We are Joyce Hamilton from the Dutch LGBTI organisation COC and Natasha Amdiju from Green Institute in North Macedonia, today speaking as representatives of civil society, as part of the UN ECE Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism.

In our region inequality and discrimination has many faces. Many people continue to confront barriers that prevent them from fully participating in economic, social and political life. These include women, children, youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, Roma, LGBTI persons, indigenous people, migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons. They often experience discrimination and exclusion, particularly aggravated when multiple aspects intersect, such as gender and class, race or HIV-status. As a result, they suffer from worse health and education outcomes, face disadvantages in access to the labour market and experience poverty at disproportionately high rates.

Examples are:

  • In the European Union, only about 47% of persons with disabilities are employed compared to 72% of other persons.
  • Many trans people are refused, outed or maltreated by healthcare professionals. They often avoid health care altogether for fear of violence and discrimination.
  • In many states refugees, migrant and indigenous persons don’t have citizenship or a formally recognised status, which seriously impairs their ability to access health care, social protection, employment and education.

Barriers that people face are both discriminatory laws, policies and practices as well as in discriminatory gender norms, stereotypes and gender-based violence. Laws that are not taking specific needs and impact on different people into account can exacerbate already existing discrimination and exclusion of already marginalised groups. It’s therefore important to apply targeted approaches for different groups.


  • Gendered job listings in law
  • Age limits in services
  • Gender registration requirements (eg. sterilisation, medical diagnosis, divorce - trans people to change their gender)
  • Citizenship and asylum legislation
  • Anti-propaganda legislation (affecting CSE, LGBTI organisations, media)
  • No adequate sanitation in schools - affecting girls of reproductive age - do not attend schools during menstruation

These hold people back and prevent them from participating in sustainable development. Unequal structures and systemic barriers impact all of us, with the most marginalized being impacted hardest. The transformation of deeply rooted systems, including economic and political systems, is required to leave no one behind as they are often based on unequal distributions of wealth and decision-making power. Governments have the responsibility to address the root causes of these inequalities and discrimination.

We therefore would like to make the following recommendations to States to:

  • Take into account the diversity of persons and groups, their circumstances and realities when drafting laws and policies and in implementation. Analyse what barriers for inclusion are and what potential impact of laws and policies will be on different people.
  • Ensure that social protection systems guarantee gender equality and ensure work-life balance. Systems that are people-centred, age-sensitive, gender-transformative and recognise the diversity of needs and families / households.
  • Ensure that all persons are recognised before the law based on their right to self-determination, have access to their human rights and the autonomy to choose over their body and sexuality
  • Ensure the engagement of the civil society organisations and community groups in formulating adequate, appropriate and effective policies and laws that matter to people and promote equality.
  • Address the significant gap in equality data on the inclusion and wellbeing of all persons. Ensure better and more inclusive data through a multi-method multidisciplinary approach to data collection and data disaggregation according to indicators of regulation, validity, reliability, comprehensiveness and use of equality data to promote equality in practice. The gap might be overcome if the states adopt multi-method multidisciplinary approach to data collection.
  • The methods must be combined according to the data availability: national statistic data sources, justice system (police reports, prosecution, court etc.); administrative record keeping (Ombudsperson, equality bodies, NGOs, trade unions..); surveys (victims, attitudes etc.) and other sources (such as situation testing; international mechanisms reports). The indicators are: regulation of equality data, validity, reliability, comprehensiveness and use of equality data to promote equality in practice.
  • Ensure Public sector duty to promote equality i.e. equality analysis. This means to define the effects of existing and new policies and practice in equality. There is a specific public sector duty to publish evidence of data collected.
  • To strengthen the capacities of equality bodies and national human rights institutions to promote their role and mandate among citizens.