Discrimination - What is it and how can we fight it?

Everyone has heard of inequalities and discrimination of people around them. Maybe your mother who got discriminated against for being a woman. Maybe it was your romany friend who doesn’t get taken seriously while applying for a job.

Every day large groups of people get discriminated against, for not having the same sex, age, health status, occupation, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or religion as the others. Everyone witnesses some form of inequality throughout their lives. Some people experience it much more often than others. Zero Discrimination Day aims to shine a light on the urgent need to take action to end the inequalities. It aims to show people how they can become informed about and promote inclusion, peace, and compassion for all.

Zero Discrimination Day - March 1st

This day is significant to organizations such as UNAIDS that work in combating discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. The organization addressed that the world is off track from its commitment to end AIDS by 2030. That is not because of a lack of capability or means to beat AIDS. It happens because of the structural inequalities in our society. Therefore, the main goal of Zero Discrimination Day is to achieve equality. This will be done by fighting for the rights of people implementing good political, economic, and social policies. At the same time, there is also an urgent and growing need to pay attention and to support the needs of disadvantaged communities.

According to UNAIDS, “inequality is growing for more than 70% of the global population, exacerbating the risk of division and hampering economic and social development.” Discrimination and inequalities are closely connected. Different forms of discrimination, such as racial, social, or structural can lead to different forms of inequalities: in income, education, employment, or health. These inequalities usually lead to stigma and to more discrimination. Therefore, to end inequality, we must address the discrimination in our society. The people of certain races, ethnicities, religions, or sexual orientations are often discriminated against, stigmatized, and often criminalized and targeted by the law enforcement. This social discrimination results in significant inequalities in access to justice in health outcomes and in educational chances.

It gets even worse

One good example of the effects of inequality are the outcomes of Covid-19. The pandemic has the most devastating effects on the most vulnerable people. Although new vaccines against Covid-19 are becoming available, there is a big inequality in getting access to them. COVID-19 has magnified the ruptures in the society we live in. Marginalized communities, which were already discriminated against, have taken the hardest economic hit. They are also the last in line for health and other vital services during this crisis.

In order to achieve equality and to end discrimination, political, economic and social policies should be adopted in order to protect everyone’s rights.  At the same time we should pay a greater amount of attention to the needs of disadvantaged communities. An end to inequality requires transformative change and a great amount of effort. There should be a bigger investment in health, education, social protection and decent jobs in order to put an end to poverty and hunger.

What should be done?

The governments should eliminate discriminatory laws and practices in order to ensure equal opportunities for everyone, while introducing new policies that promote diversity and anti-discrimination. They should be responsible for the promotion of inclusive social and economic growth and for the education of the general public on the importance of equality.

We are all connected in this world. Therefore,  we all have a role to play in ending discrimination and in reducing inequalities by taking little steps. We should also play our part by calling out discrimination where we see it, by setting an example or by advocating to change the law.  In order to make our planet better and more sustainable, first   have to consider the well-being of people living on it.

One single person cannot end thousands of years of discrimination. But each one of us has the duty to be open to seeing our own unconscious biases. By promoting awareness, people become more open to receiving other people’s positions. We should also create a space where supportive dialogue is promoted. A space where people can ask about others’ backgrounds and cultures, and an environment where people feel comfortable in.

Zero-discrimination day should be a reminder to all of us of about just how much the worlds needs a change. Each one of us has a duty to treat others with dignity and respect. It is time to think about how we can create a culture of openness, diversity, and inclusivity for all. No matter how insignificant one’s power may seem, it could have a long-lasting impact on another person. So help as much as you can and keep your eyes open to the world around you!

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