Intersectionality: AGE discusses good practices and policy support with civil society partners

On February 1st AGE hosted a session on intersectionality (or multiple discrimination) in the frame of the Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP) online meeting. This meeting was an opportunity to exchange ideas and good practices around the most pressing human rights challenges faced by civil society, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

One size does not fit all

Our session built on the premise that, although older persons in Europe have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, we still have little understanding of how marginalized communities of older persons have been affected and can be supported.

Using the example of our work on older LGBTI people, we discussed strategies to increase visibility of the challenges faced by other marginalized groups. The discussion exposed common difficulties, but also inspiring achievements at grassroots and European level. Together participants explored ways to connect communities and learn from each other.

Messages to policy makers

The EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) Director Michael O’Flaherty, European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, and UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights participated in an online exchange with participants to the FRP.

During this discussion, AGE highlighted key outcomes of our session on intersectionality and made the following recommendations:

  • Close the data gap

Without comprehensive and disaggregated data, it is impossible to have a full diagnosis of the extent of human rights violations and how these are experienced by marginalised groups. For example, many surveys have age limits and FRA has not yet done a study on older persons. This data gap, which also concerns other groups, is an alarming sign of exclusion and renders meaningful policymaking and normative action practically impossible.

We need more funding for disaggregated data collection, research on intersectionality and studies around marginalised groups.

  • Secure systematic participation of civil society

Civil Society Organisations play an irreplaceable role in reaching out to marginalised communities. Yet they are not always consulted when decisions are made. For example, a FRA bulletin revealed than only 3 countries consulted older people on measures imposed during the pandemic. Organisations representing minorities are even less likely to be consulted and their views remain largely invisible.

We need more support and funding for organisations representing minority groups, such as older LGBTI, and for small grassroots organisations to better address intersectionality in old age and beyond.

  • Develop frameworks to promote equality for all groups

There is no legal and policy framework that facilitates looking at intersectionality. Whereas most so-called ‘vulnerable groups’ have been the subject of dedicated action plans, strategies and priority actions for the EU, this has to date not been the case for older people nor age equality more generally. As a result, it is even more challenging to address intersectional discrimination on the basis of age and other grounds.

We need the EU to address intersectionality more consistently, including by addressing issues and groups not typically included in existing equality action plans and strategies, as is the case for older people, among other groups.

FRA director Michael O’Flaherty agreed that the FRA could do more work on older persons: their Work Programme includes a reference to ‘a project’ on older people’s rights but unfortunately, the FRA has not yet secured adequate funding for its implementation. AGE believes that now more than ever such a study is urgently needed. We hope that this project will soon see the light of day.

For more information, you can contact Nena Georgantzi:



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