Data on (in)equality & discrimination in Belgium: results of the project ‘Improving equality data collection in Belgium’ (2021)

"Improving equality data collection in Belgium” (IEDCB) is a Belgian project co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) programme of the Directorate-General for Justice of the European Commission. It was realised thanks to a partnership between Unia and the Equal Opportunities Team of the Federal Public Service for Justice. The project aims to improve the collection and processing of equality data in Belgium. 

    What exactly is equality data?  

    Equality data is any piece of information that allows us to describe and analyse the state of equality or inequality in society. ‘Data’ is used as a general term and can refer to both quantitative and qualitative data. Such data can be collected from a number of data sources such as official data (census, administrative databases), household and individual surveys, victimisation surveys, complaints, discrimination testing, diversity monitoring and qualitative research.  

    Data hub with data on (in)equality and discrimination in Belgium 

    First and foremost, Unia made an inventory of the existing equality data in Belgium. This online data hub is freely accessible and makes it possible to easily search data sources according to different criteria and domains. Try it yourself now

    This inventory was compiled thanks to input from civil society organisations and public institutions and through our own proactive research. This process is not yet complete: we are still looking for new sources, so please feel free to send us new data sources! 

    Final report with recommendations and closing conference 

    Together with this inventory, Unia published a report with insights and recommendations on the collection and processing of equality data. The report exposes several gaps in the Belgian equality data. For example, there is a lack of reliable figures on access to health care based on “racial” criteria. Moreover, too little data is collected on sexual orientation or religious and philosophical beliefs. We also note that there is a need for clearer information about the legislation regarding the processing of personal data. Finally, Unia recommends focusing on a coordinated approach to the collection and processing of equality data.  

    This report and the data hub were also the subject of a closing conference in June 2021. The recording of this conference can be found on Unia's YouTube channel.

    Why is equality data important?  

    Equality data provides a clearer picture of reality and is therefore essential in the fight against discrimination and inequality. Accurate and complete data provides the foundation for identifying problems and addressing them through a policy based on facts, rather than intuition.  

    What data is it about?   

    For the IEDCB project, we made an inventory of existing equality data in Belgium for three groups of discrimination criteria:   

    • 'Racial' criteria: so-called ‘race’, skin colour, nationality, descent and national or ethnic origin;   
    • Philosophical or religious beliefs;  
    • Sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. 

    Do you have a question or comment about this project? Let us know by e-mail to

    We would like to thank the respondents to our survey, the experts we consulted and the members of the advisory committees who supervised this project. The data hub and report would not have been possible without their contributions and involvement. 

    This project was funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020). The content of this article represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.