Regulations on Equality

In  1979, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a founding text, in the international context,  for the fight against discrimination founded on gender.

The text of the  CEDAW can be found at:

The principle of the equality of treatment of women and men workers  has also been present in the Treaty for the European Community, since  1957 (Article 119). Since then the European Community – today the European Union – has constantly promoted equality between men and women, in the workplace  (75/117/EEC, 76/207/EEC, 97/80/EC, joined in Directive  dir. 2006/54/EU, and directive 86/613/EEC later amended in Directive  2010/41/EU), in social security  (dir. 79/7/EEC e 86/378/EEC, the latter then modified into Directive 2006/54/EU), and in access to goods and services (Directive 2004/113/EU).

Also important in this context, are Directive 92/85/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding , and directive  96/34/CE, now repealed  by Directive  2010/18/EU on parental leave.

Pursuant to the introduction with the Treaty of Amsterdam of a legal base allowing the European Union to take adequate measures to fight discrimination founded on sex, race or ethnic origin, religion or personal beliefs, disability age or sexual orientation (Article 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), Directives   2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin  and  2000/78/EC on opposing discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation were adopted.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (possessing the same legal effectiveness of the Treaties) furthermore states:

  • equality before the law (Article 20)
  • the prohibition of any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited, (Article 21)
  • Equality between men and women in all areas, (Article 23)
  • the possibility of adopting  measures providing for specific advantages in favour of the under-represented sex  (Article 23)

Every legal act by the European Union can be found at:

Another fundamental disposition for the fight against discriminations is Article 14 of the  European Convention on Human Rights. The text of the convention can be found at:

The Italian Constitution acknowledges and protects  the principle of equality under its Article 3. According to Italia lawyer and politician Lelio Basso, member of the Italian Constituent Assembly, equality is “democracy’s sovereign virtue”. Article  3 provides that:

All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinions, personal and social conditions.

It is the duty of the Republic to remove those obstacles of an economic and social nature which, really limiting the freedom and equality of citizens, impede the full development of the human person and the effective participation of all workers in the political, economic and social organization of the country”.

The principle of equality is also guaranteed, in the Italian  Constitutional Charter, under :

  • Article 37 , establishing equality between women and men workers;
  • Article 51, pursuant its amendment under  Constitutional Law  1/2003, providing for the right of all citizens, of either sex, to be eligible for public office and for elected positions on equal terms. For  this purpose the Republic fosters, with the help of appropriate provisions, equal opportunities among women and men.

The text of the Italian Constitution may be read on the following site in Italian:

and in English at:

The principles of the constitution were   implemented  by a series of legislative interventions, amongst which we would like to point out:

  • Legislative Decree no. 198/2006 - “Code of Equal Opportunities between men and women”, regulating the prohibition of discrimination, positive actions for the achievement of factual equality between women and men workers, and the female councillors on equality at a national, regional and provincial level;
  • Legislative Decree no. 151/2001 on protecting and supporting parenting  (maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, and so on);
  • Legislative Decree no.  215/2003 on equal treatment of individuals independently of racial or ethnic origin;
  • Legislative Decree no. 216/2003 on equality of treatment of individuals independently of  religion or personal beliefs, disability, age or sexual orientation;
  • Legislative Decree no. 165/2001 - “General rules on employment within public offices”, where it is established that public offices guarantee equality between men and women and the absence of any type of discrimination based on  gender, age, sexual orientation, race (Article 7). Article 57 of Legislative Decree no. 165/2001 provides for the constitution, within all public offices, of a  "Single guaranteeing Committee for Equal Opportunities, for the increase of workers’ wellbeing and  against discriminations" (SGC). The Guidelines on the functioning  of  SGCs are laid down by the Directive of 4 March 2011, adopted by the Minister of Public Administration  and Innovations and by the Minister for Equal Opportunities, which may be read at:

All regulatory texts are to be found at:

Finally, mention must be made of the Charter for equality of opportunity and equality in the workplace, (also endorsed by the University of Ferrara), “a statement of intent for the diffusion of a corporate culture and human resources policies that is inclusive and free from discrimination and prejudice, able to exploit the talents in all their diversity”.

The Charter for equality of opportunity and equality in the workplace can be found at: