Discriminatory policies and gender-based violence are just some of the human rights violations that are continuing to have a disproportionate impact on the lives of women and girls around the world. Discrimination has many forms, from racial or religious discrimination to discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or age, and to bullying at school or at work.
On 1 March, people around the world join together to celebrate Zero Discrimination Day. This year, UNAIDS is addressing the discrimination faced by women and girls in all their diversity and raising awareness and mobilizing action to promote equality and empowerment for women and girls. Also, UNAIDS is highlighting areas where change is urgently needed like, equal participation in political life, human rights and laws that empower, economic justice—equal pay for equal work, ending gender-based violence, provide health care without stigma or barriers, equal and free access to primary and secondary education, and climate justice.
Although some countries have made laudable progress towards greater gender equality, discrimination against women and girls still exists everywhere. Intersecting with other forms of discrimination based on income, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, these rights violations disproportionately harm women and girls. Ultimately, gender inequality affects everyone’s health and well-being.
Globally, at least one in three women and girls have experienced violence in their lives, with adolescent girls experiencing higher rates of intimate partner violence than adult women overall. This figure hides deep disparities, with more than 50% of women in some countries reporting violence just in the past 12 months. In many countries, laws that discriminate against women and girls remain in force, while laws that uphold women’s basic rights and protect them against harm and unequal treatment are far from the norm.
We, at the World Assembly of Youth (WAY), understand that discrimination is a violation of human rights and must be addressed with an extensive approach. We acknowledge that Zero Discrimination Day is an opportunity to celebrate everyone’s right and pride, especially young people, in order to assure full and productive life for all without any forms of exclusion and segregation. We also promote young women in roles of leadership, at the community level as well as nationally, regionally, and globally. Indeed, it is a day to call everyone in promoting and supporting diversity, tolerance, and inclusion as well as standing together against discrimination.
Discrimination continues to undermine efforts to achieve a more just and equitable world and causes pain and suffering for many. Let us stand out! Embrace the diversity that exists around us, understand and accept people’s differences, open minds, respect, and support one another.
Happy Zero Discrimination Day!