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Origin and social situation

It is the mission of the equal opportunities service to counter discrimination based on social origin and situation to the best of its ability. This differs from fighting poverty, which is a matter for other actors. Specifically, our action mainly focuses on the equal opportunities test and raising awareness of this issue among the administration.

Discrimination on the basis of social origin or situation is a little-known ground of discrimination with rather vague contours, even for subject specialists. We can immediately imagine something about discrimination based on gender, disability, sexual orientation or ethnic origin, but this is much less the case with discrimination based on social origin or situation. This concept requires some explanation.

Social origins

Social origin refers to family background or the place where the person comes from. Thus, it is striking that people born or living in a certain Brussels commune, e.g. Molenbeek or Saint-Josse, are less likely to be employed than those from other communes. It is important to note here that this even applies to `rasechte' Belgians with a typically Belgian name. In addition to discrimination on ethnic or cultural grounds, there is therefore often unequal treatment based on origin or place of residence.

Social situation: poverty and livelihood insecurity

The social situation, in turn, refers to the poverty and insecurity of existence of part of the population. In Brussels, these problems are very present. Indeed, 33% of the Brussels population is at risk of falling below the poverty threshold (16% for Belgium as a whole). Contrary to a widespread idea, these people do not only struggle with money problems. 

They become lonely in society and have difficulty finding the necessary support to which they are entitled (the so-called non-take-up of rightsOpens in new windowExternal link). The isolation in which these people sometimes unintentionally find themselves therefore results not only from their money worries, but also from their unfamiliarity with administrative worries. 

An inclusive policy should therefore at least reduce administrative burdens and obligations and offer guidance where necessary. This also brings us to the issue of the digital divide, as more and more administrative matters take place online.

Single-parent families & senior citizens

Senior citizens and single-parent families can also find themselves in an unenviable social situation. Indeed, single-parent families are 41% likely to live in poverty, compared with 16% for the total Belgian population.

Single-parent families represent about one-third of families in Brussels. In Brussels, one child in four grows up in a single-parent family. However, this significant part of the population in the capital is more at risk of poverty (lower quality housing, lower income, etc.). Single mothers account for some 90% of these parents and are financially responsible for raising one or more children alone.

Aware of the challenges associated with single parenthood in the Brussels-Capital RegionOpens in new windowExternal link, the Brussels Regional Public Service decided to create this website. The website gives an overview of the various services and the assistance available and accessible to single parents living in the Brussels-Capital Region. It is aimed at single parents and professionals who support them.

You will find all useful information on the situation of single-parent families related to the various topics. In the resourcesOpens in new windowExternal link section, you will also find interesting documents that will help you better understand the challenges of single parenthood.

Brussels action plan for single-parent families 2021-2025

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