Discrimination in policy

A policy can be described as a plan of action devised to deliver an intended outcome, and more broadly refer to agendas produced by governments to deliver some sort of socially desirable outcome – like a housing policy designed to ensure people have adequate housing.

Policy discrimination is a regrettable reality in many places around the world. Government policies often discriminate against people on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religion or other ground, and age. Sadly, many children therefore experience multiple layers of policy discrimination; female children for example experience a 'double disadvantage' when policies discriminate on the basis of age and gender.

This discrimination can be either direct (such as policies that specifically exclude young people from access to a service or a benefit for example) or indirect (such as policies that prioritise the needs of home owners, who are normally not children). But this does not have to be the case; many good social policies are produced that are either non-discriminatory or go one step further and actively challenge discrimination.

To add another layer of complexity to the issue, social policy often results in both intended and unintended outcomes. Many policies devised with 'good' intended consequences in reality have many discriminatory unintended consequences. Redressing policy discrimination requires an analysis of both.

These pages explore discrimination in social policy, using case studies, and discuss ways that social policies can be created, reviewed and revised to ensure they are compliant with children's right to non-discrimination.