Workshop – Age discrimination outside the employment field by Elaine Dewhurst and Nena Georgantzi
The basis for this workshop is the thematic report written for the network by Elaine Dewhurst, Senior Lecturer in Employment Law at the University of Manchester [link to the report on the website]. Summarising the main findings of her report, Elaine provided an analysis of the current law at regional and national level within the EU on the issue of age discrimination in the fields of social protection, education, housing, healthcare and access to goods and services. In her conclusions she said that there is a gap in protection regarding age discrimination which needs to be filled, but the gap is small in real terms and that five key recommendations (included in her report) can resolve many of the issues at stake. Last but not least: law will not achieve this alone – policy is central to effective planning and implementation of the (age) equality agenda.
Subsequently, the workshop moved on to a presentation by Nena Georgantzi, policy coordinator on human rights and non-discrimination at AGE Platform Europe, who first addressed the key challenges with regard to age discrimination in the fields of social protection, health, education, housing, credit and financial services. She explained what the issues are with ageism (“ageism” refers to assumptions we make about people because of their age). So ageism starts with stereotypes and it makes inequalities suffered by older people seem natural or inevitable. In her conclusions she underlined the importance of the adoption of the EU Horizontal Directive, but without the loopholes of (too many) exceptions with regard to age discrimination. Alongside this she called for awareness-raising and education to combat ageism, because ageism is so prevalent in society, but also among legal professionals. She asked for more EU policy focus on age equality: whereas there are EU Strategies for disability, gender and race, there is none for age. Finally, she put forward the idea of a UN Convention on age discrimination, referring to the impact on EU and national legal protection of people with disabilities due to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).