Discrimination in all forms remains to be one of the major problems our society is facing. Although there has been a number of significant changes in terms of eradicating and addressing discrimination, there is still a lot of work to be done. Every day, millions of people are being unfairly treated, harassed, or even killed because of their race, religion, gender, economic status, and many more. Now, more than ever, is the right time to address these issues.
An article by Inside Housing reported some instances which show that discrimination is still rampant in our society. For instance, a survey of almost 25,000 British workers in 2015 showed that 30% of them have witnessed or experienced being harassed because of their race. About 59% in the survey conducted by trade magazine Construction News had heard people using the term 'gay' to insult other people in their workplace. Another 28% of LGBTQ+ members had also received or experienced offensive comments because of their gender and sexuality.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission also reported that their survey showed three-quarters of working moms have experienced discrimination simply because they have children. The list of the prevalence of discrimination in all forms goes on and on. What's worse is it can continue in the years to come if not addressed immediately and properly. Global events like Zero Discrimination Day is one of the many efforts to eventually stop discrimination and make this world a better place to live in.
Brief History of Zero Discrimination Day
Many small and big organizations around the world actively promote living a life with dignity regardless of their gender, age, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, beliefs, education, and more and this includes the United Nations. According to an article by the World Atlas, Zero Discrimination Day was initiated to create a platform, promoting equality and ending inequality before the law.
The roots of this global event go back to February 27, 2014, when UNAIDS decided to launch an event encouraging people with HIV/AIDS to get professional help and stop the stigma. According to an article by the Latestly, Zero Discrimination was launched by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé on February 27, 2014, in Beijing, China. It was first celebrated on March 1 of the same year.
The event was eventually celebrated to promote zero discrimination based on HIV status, gender identity, age, sex, and many more. In fact, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, human rights treaties, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international obligations stated that countries around the world have both a legal and moral obligation to remove discriminatory laws as well as create laws protecting people from discrimination.
Why is Zero Discrimination Day Celebrated?
This global event is a huge effort to recognize the struggles of people being discriminated every day and serves as a platform to address the issues. It helps to understand the importance of spreading awareness on such issues and taking a stand towards a fair society. For instance, at least 20 countries around the world have imposed travel restrictions against people who are living with HIV.
Some of the issues that the Zero Discrimination Day aims to address is that 17 nations are criminalizing transgender people. Aside from that, homosexual relationships are not legally accepted in at least 67 countries and territories around the world. Through this event, it can unite people all over the globe to treat people equally regardless of their differences. Aside from that, it aims to encourage member countries to enact laws which will protect their constituents.
According to UNAIDS, the Zero Discrimination Day aims to recall the worth and equal dignity of every individual. It serves as a call of action to change every country's discriminatory laws and practices that hinder people from feeling safe in their own places. As Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS said, “Human rights violations are happening all over the world because of discriminatory laws and practices. Laws must protect, not cause harm. All countries must carefully examine their laws and policies in order to ensure equality and protection for all people, without exception.”
Since this event was established in 2014, it has already made significant changes. For instance, campaigners in India have voiced out their opinions against their laws which discriminates the LGBTQ+ community. Another is in Liberia where the National AIDS urged the people to not victimize people living with HIV/AIDS. Although these achievements are indeed major steps, there are still a lot of challenges. For instance, countries around the world have varying political ideologies which affect the campaign against discrimination.
As Dr. Ahmed Khamis, UNAIDS Country Manager said in a statement published in Africa News, everyone plays an important role in influencing change and ending discrimination in their own ways. 'I call on everyone to create a healthy environment free of discrimination through understanding and awareness-raising especially targeting youth to empower people living with HIV to live in a discrimination-free society,' he said.