Multiple discrimination in healthcare

In 2010 and 2011, the Fundamental Rights Agency undertook its first in-depth research looking at forms of discrimination that have been relatively little studied so far: ‘multiple' and ‘intersectional' discrimination.
Project Status
Findings available
Project start date

Objectives - Why this project and for whom?

Reasons for tackling multiple discrimination

In 2010 and 2011, the Fundamental Rights Agency undertook its firstin-depth research looking at forms of discrimination that have been relatively little studied so far: ‘multiple' and ‘intersectional' discrimination.

Multiple discrimination occurs when a person is discriminated on the basis of several grounds operating separately, for instance, by being treated less favourably on the ground of origin in one situation and because of gender in another. Intersectional discrimination is referred to where somebody is discriminated against on several grounds at the same time and in such a way that these are inseparable. Analysing multiple or intersectional discrimination is particularly important in cases where, for example, neither women in general nor elderly people in general are subject to discrimination, but elderly women are.

Access to quality health care is a fundamental right. In consultation with its stakeholders, the FRA has therefore decided to collect the necessary evidence and carry out fieldwork research on multiple and intersectional discrimination in access to health care on the grounds of age, gender, and ethnicity.

Recognising and studying multiple discrimination brings a novel perspective into the field of human rights. It means taking into account multiple background factors and the complexity of discrimination, thus addressing in a more accurate and precise way the effects of discrimination.

Details - What did the project involve?

Filling the information gap

EU anti-discrimination law recognises these issues. Recital 14 of the EU Racial Equality Directive, for instance, states:

‘In implementing the principle of equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, the Community should, in accordance with Article 3(2) of the EC Treaty, aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality between men and women, especially since women are often the victims of multiple discrimination.'

In 2007, the European Commission published a report on Tackling multiple discrimination: Practices, policies, laws with the aim of determining ‘workable solutions to combat the existence of Multiple Discrimination'. The report highlights the difficulties in applying the concept of multiple discrimination to policies and law. Legal practice does, according to the report, not sufficiently take into account experiences of multiple discrimination by individuals. The Commission report also reveals a general lack of relevant research and data in this field.

This FRA project aimed to fill this information gap by producing comprehensive data and evidence. On the basis of the findings, the FRA  is able to advise EU institutions and Member States on policies and actions that could help improve the situation of persons affected by multiple and intersectional discrimination in access to healthcare.

Innovation - What's 'new' about the project?

Currently, there is a lack of research data on how multiple and intersectional discrimination impacts on people in the EU - in particular in the area of healthcare. The project therefore contributes to filling the existing research gap in this area.

Outputs - What will the project deliver?

The projects results have been made available in the following publications.

Summary report:

  • mainly targeted at policy makers;
  • includes evidence-based advice for tackling issues and cases of multiple and intersectional discrimination.

Comparative report:

  • comprehensive report presenting results of the fieldwork research;
  • overview of legal and policy instruments dealing with multiple discrimination across the EU;
  • more detailed reference to methodological issues.

Good practice handbook:

  • based on evidence collected through the research;
  • selection of good practices effectively addressing multiple discrimination across the EU;
  • highlighting, for instance, legal instruments, policies, practical initiatives.

This project page was last updated on 20.03.2013