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What does the creation of equal opportunities mean?

Considering equality of opportunity as an underlying issue means that it’s been analysed and observed that the barriers and obstacles which limit the actual opportunities of individuals belonging to one or another social group in seemingly similar conditions are eliminated using certain measures and actions. Attitudes, myths, stereotypes, direct or indirect discrimination, historically and culturally established patterns of behaviour, etc. may be limiting factors.

Persons in respect to whom certain prejudices and negative attitudes have become common in society, whose interests are subjected to the interests of dominating groups that are in power or who are marginalised and excluded do not have equal opportunities. Seemingly identical objective conditions do not guarantee that opportunities are equal. For example, disabled people have an equal right to education according to law, but in practice, disabled people are unable to exercise this right if educational institutions are not accessible.

Creating equal opportunities is often based on the notion that once people have been put on an equal footing and initial barriers removed, what happens next depends only on their own free will. No attention is given to the fact that ‘free will’ is often shackled by the restrictive stereotypes and outdated standards in society.

The activities needed to analyse the equality of opportunities and create equal opportunities are: consultation, involvement of experts, use of relevant studies and statistical benchmarks.

Avoiding less favourable treatment on the basis of age and ethnicity and creating more equal opportunities means the inclusion of age groups in decision-making and the activities of the measure, consideration of the situation of different age and ethnic groups, informing them and making the communication aimed at them more effective, and enabling access to services and benefits.

In order to avoid discrimination based on disability, i.e. to ensure equal treatment of disabled people, it’s important to include the group in decision-making processes, ensure access to the activities of the measure and implement universal and inclusive design.

If you feel that you’ve been treated unequally, please contact the Equality Commissioner by e-mail at avaldus@volinik.ee or telephone +372 626 9059. The anonymity of the person is guaranteed when contacting the Commissioner.