Question
“What policies could effectively tackle inequality?”
Sarah Casey Senior Strategy and Investment Advisor Internal Affairs
Top Answer
Teresa Moley Policy Officer Equality Commission for NI
Top Answer

Tackling inequality is a very broad concept and to identify the requisite policies / interventions will depend on the inequalities you are considering. My work in the Equality Commission is concerned with groups protected by the equality laws here. For example,

  • Our focus is on inequalities experienced by range of groups that includes women and men, particular ethnic groups, older or younger people, LGB communities, transgender individuals and people with disabilities.Whilst socio-economic disadvantage is not a specified ground under the equality legislation, the barriers and inequalities experienced by equality groups can be exacerbated by poverty and social exclusion.
  • We therefore also take into account the poverty and social exclusion experienced by a range of equality groups.
  • We have considered inequalities experienced by these groups in specific areas such as employment, education, housing, and participation in public life

In addition, we have as a result, of the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement a policy development approach built into our legislative framework.

Section 75 of the NI Act aims to encourage public authorities (Of which there are approximately 140) to address inequalities for nine equality groups The following link on the Section 75 duties provides a detailed overview of what is involved.  

To gain a more in depth knowledge of some of the inequalities, we have on occasion, commissioned some research into specific areas. Findings from this research helps to inform us of the policy gaps or deficits.

A recent example from my work involves the Equality Commission for NI contracting independent researchers from Queen’s University Belfast to undertake research on Inequalities in education in Northern Ireland.  You can view their final report here.

Rhe Commission drew on this research to develop a statement of key inequalities in education.  Using this statement, we undertook a programme of engagement with key stakeholders and developed policy priorities for education in Northern Ireland. We are calling for changes to a range of policies that include – data collection policies, schools’ admissions policies, policies for dealing with newcomer children, anti-bullying policies, funding policies to name just a few.

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