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Discrimination based on social origin: a reality too often ignored

No one’s outcomes in life should be determined by their birth, the Committee on Equality noted today, adopting a report by Selin Sayek Böke (Turkey, SOC). However, throughout Europe, a person’s social origin, the conditions in which they were born, have a direct influence on their future, their access to education and life-long learning, their employment prospects and their chances of social mobility. This direct effect is too often ignored, both in legislation and in the policies implemented by States.

According to the committee, discrimination based on social origin – prohibited by a large number of international instruments, but rarely taken into account in national legal systems – increases poverty and social exclusion and deprives those affected of prospects of development; it also results in class pay-gaps, that persist throughout people’s lives, even at the same level of education.

In order to tackle discrimination based on social origin effectively, the Equality Committee recommended that member States clearly prohibit it in legislation, and provide for individual remedies accessible to victims of this form of discrimination. “To avoid continually reproducing this phenomenon, legislation must be accompanied by measures to better recognise merit and promote social mobility and social justice,” the parliamentarians added.

Stressing that this form of discrimination occurs from early childhood and persists throughout education and access to employment, the committee also called on States, in particular, to ensure free and accessible public provision of early education and childcare services; to provide free, equitable and quality education to all, regardless of social origin and throughout the life cycle; to design redistributive fiscal policies that will enable the cycle of material deprivation inhibiting social mobility to be broken; and to formalise recruitment and promotion procedures and make them transparent.