The Equality Coalition is a broad civil society alliance of more than 100 NGOs and trade unions dedicated to promoting equality and compliance with Section 75 within Northern Ireland. It is co-convened by CAJ and UNISON.
Background & purpose
The Equality Coalition was founded in 1996 by community and voluntary sector organisations and trade unions. It was instrumental in putting equality at the forefront of the agenda at that crucial time, when lasting peace in Northern Ireland was beginning to seem like a tangible possibility. The Coalition aims to provide a forum for unity between multiple sectors when campaigning for equality, while still allowing for the diversity of its members’ work and views. By facilitating a strong message from diverse equality groups, the Equality Coalition helps to ensure maximum impact in a resource efficient manner. This approach is particularly important in the current environment, where organisations’ resources are challenged.
Membership of the Coalition is diverse. Cumulatively, the member organisations in the Equality Coalition work across all nine equality categories covered by Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. These are, in summary, as follows:
- Political Opinion
- Religious Belief
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
Members also work on other recognised protected equality grounds, including (but not limited to) socio-economic status, language, citizenship, irrelevant criminal record, and immigration status.
Goals & objectives
There are two key tenets to the work of the Equality Coalition: The first is information sharing and capacity building. The second is lobbying and advocacy.
The Coalition’s core aims and objectives are:
- To ensure the equality duties, as prescribed by Section 75, are put into practice.
- To raise the public profile of the equality agenda in Northern Ireland.
- To facilitate information sharing.
- To engage in strategic planning that will effect change for critical equality issues.
Method of working
The Equality Coalition has monthly meetings, at which members discuss current equality issues, decide on actions to take forward, and share information about projects and campaigns. Members are also provided with ongoing, bespoke support and advice on equality matters.
The Coalition hosts regular events and seminars to facilitate engagement with public authorities, build capacity within its membership, and encourage networking. When required to push forward the equality agenda, the Coalition also facilitates high level meetings with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI), government departments, and political representatives.
The Equality Coalition and its staff members have always been managed from within CAJ, with joint direction from UNISON (who also fund the Coalition). Actions on equality requiring a formal legal personality, such as litigating or issuing equality scheme complaints, are taken forward by CAJ or other member groups.
If you would like any further information about the Equality Coalition, please contact us on the details below. Coalition membership is open to groups working on equality issues within Northern Ireland – email or call to find out more about how to join.
Address: Equality Coalition, c/o CAJ, 1st Floor, Community House, Citylink Business Park, 6A Albert Street, Belfast, BT12 4HQ
Tel: 028 9031 6000