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Institute for the Equality of Women and Men

BELGIUM: Institute for the Equality of Women and Men

Main Informations


The mission of the Belgian Institute for the Equality of Women and Men is to guarantee and promote the equality of women and men and to fight against any form of discrimination and inequality based on gender in all aspects of life through the development and implementation of an adequate legal framework, appropriate structures, strategies, instruments and actions.

Brief history

Date established: 2002
Mode of establishment: Law of 16 December 2002 creating the Institute for the equality of women and men
Status: Autonomous institution of public law
Competences and responsibilities:

The Institute for the equality of women and men
1.undertake, develop, support and co-ordinate studies and research in the field of gender and equality of women and men as well as to assess the impact in terms of gender, of policies, programmes and measures;
2.address recommendations to the public authorities with a view to improving the relevant laws and regulations;
3.address recommendations to the public authorities as well as to individuals and private institutions on the basis of the results of the studies and research described under point 1;
4.organise the support offered to associations working in the field of equality between women and men, or projects aiming at achieving equality between women and men;, within the limits of its goal, any person requesting advice on the scope of his/her rights and obligations. This assistance enables its beneficiary to obtain information and advice on the possible ways to have his/her rights enforced;
6.take legal action in the case of disputes resulting from the application of criminal and other laws, specifically aimed at guaranteeing the equality of women and men;
7.draft and provide any information, documents and archives that might be useful within the limits of its mission;
8.without any possibility of identifying the parties, statistics and jurisdictional decisions that might be useful to assess the laws and regulations relating to gender equality gather and issue;
9.ask the competent authorities, when the Institute evokes facts that give reason to presume the existence of discriminatory treatment as provided by the laws and regulations relating to the equality of women and men, to gather information and to inform the latter of the result of the analysis of the facts in question; set up a network with the various key players in the field of gender equality.

Mandate type
  • Predominantly promotion-type and legal support body
Litigation powers
  • Representing in front of courts
  • Bringing proceedings in own name
  • Intervening before the court
  • Amicus Curiae
Communication activities (e.g. awareness raising campaigns)noyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnono
Recommendations on discrimination issuesnoyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnono
Publications and reportsnoyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnono
Research projects (including surveys)noyesyesyesyesyesyesyesnono
Our institution has a mandate to deal with:
  • Violence against women
  • Hate crime
  • Hate speech
Other statistics
Number of inquiries handled per year (all contact even if not resulting in a formal complaint)221301365323366463549736no datano data
Number of cases handled per year (case files opened and processed according to your procedures)130191226222209214318295no datano data
Number of media appearances per year (major newspapers/magazines/websites/blogs, TV + radio channels) - does not include social media147429323283319555455395no datano data
  • Single headed equality body (led by director or ombudsman/commissioner)
Management details

The Management Board is responsible for determining the general policy of the Institute, on the basis of proposals made by the Direction. It has the ability to give an opinion on the draft management plan and operational plan. The Direction is responsible for implementing the decisions of the Management Board. The Direction ensures the daily management of the Institute. It defines a 6-year management plan with strategic and operational targets.

Additional details

The Institute is divided in several cells. On one side, cells responsible of gender equality administration (e.g. : international policies, fight against violence), other dealing with the missions of the Equality body.

Procedure for nomination and appointment of management and board

Direction (mandate 6 years renewable) nominated by the Minister of Equal opportunities
Board appointed by Royal Decree (proposal of Minister of Equal opportunities approved by Council of Ministers)

Number of staff dealing with equality issues
37.837.832.434.932.933.937.335.0no datano data
Grounds and fields of discrimination covered by the equality body
Grounds / FieldsEmploymentEducationHousingSocial Protection & HealthcareGoods & ServicesOther
Gender IdentityyesyesyesyesyesPenal
Race and Ethnic Originnonononono
Sexual Orientationnonononono
Religion & Beliefnonononono

Other grounds : Education is one the exclusive competences of the communities. The Institute, however, in this context, has signed cooperation protocols with the French Community and the COCOF.

Mandate covers:
  • Public sector
  • Private sector
Operating budget in euros
no data5253916.715209131.265202398.685335563.585386644.7153515776576342no datano data
Operating budget in euros for the parts of the organisation dealing with equality issues (all types of functions).
no data5253916.715209131.265202398.685335563.585386644.7153515776576342no datano data
We are accountable to:
  • National Parliament
  • Head of State
  • National Ministry
  • National audit institution (i.e. for financial reporting)
  • governements departments, senate

Related News

Madam X. was born male and underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1997. Since then she has gone through life as a woman without any problems, until she wanted to take out hospitalisation insurance. The insurance company only wanted to agree to taking out an insurance policy with her if there was a specific exclusion in the policy that related to her trans identity. The judge in the first instance ruled that this condition discriminates against transgender people.


2017 has been designated by the European Commission as the year dedicated to combating violence against women. Many equality bodies are on the forefront of this work, carrying out projects aimed at developing and implementing practical and targeted information to combat violence against women, as well as awareness-raising and education activities. 25 November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.


Between 2 May and 9 June 2017, researchers at Western University and the Belgian Institute for equality of women and men, in cooperation with its partners, conducted a national online survey on the impact of domestic violence on work, workers and in workplaces.
Approximately 28% of respondents reported having experienced domestic violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime (33.7% of women and 14.9% of men reported experiencing domestic violence in their life time.)


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General Contact Information

Full name in English:

Institute for the equality of women and men

Full name in the national language(s):

Institut pour l’égalité des femmes et des homes/ Instituut voor de gelijkheid van vrouwen en mannen

Postal address:
Rue Ernest Blerot 1 – 1070 Brussels- Belgium

General email address:

0800/12 800

Telephone number:

0032(0)2/233 44 00

Languages in which your institution can be contacted:


Person of contact for media enquiries:

Liesbet Vanhollebeke

Name of the Head of the equality body:

Michel Pasteel

Engagement with Equinet

Contact Person


Liesbet Vanhollebeke