Lack of data on inequality and discrimination in Belgium raises concerns
Saturday, 19 June 2021
There is not enough data on inequality and discrimination in Belgium, the Inter-federal Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, UNIA, noted in a press release issued on Saturday, highlighting the importance of data collection for effective policymaking in this field.
Using public health as an example, UNIA indicated that there were no reliable figures on access to health care based on so-called racial criteria. “Has everyone had equal access to health care during the pandemic? We do not know,” it said. “The same goes for police action, discrimination or racism. For the moment, there is too little data.”
There is also a lack of data regarding sexual orientation and philosophical or religious beliefs, noted the independent public institution, which fights discrimination and promotes equal opportunity.
For UNIA, which, together with the Federal Justice Department’s Equal Opportunities Unit has been working this year on a project to improve the collection and development of data related to equality in Belgium, the information deficit is problematic, given the fact that intuitions can sometimes supplant reality.
“If there are no figures on a subject, or too few, emotions quickly take over,” UNIA Director Patrick Charlier explained. “Reliable figures enable us to have a discussion based on facts rather than impressions.”
The Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity, Sarah Schlitz, agreed. “To measure is to know,” she commented. “Thanks to objective data, policy can be adapted and complemented, if needed.”
UNIA recommended a coordinated approach to the collection and development of data on equality and discrimination.
“A debate is also necessary, so that the collection of data regarding, for example, so-called racial criteria, sexual orientation, or religious and philosophical convictions can become less of a taboo,” Daniel Flore, Director-General of the Justice Department added.
“Data collection is often sensitive,” he explained, “but it is only by tracking certain data that one can identify existing inequalities.”