Zero Discrimination Day: The Urgency to End Inequalities

An important day that we should never take for granted, Youth Time highlights why Zero Discrimination Day needs the recognition it deserves.

The 1st of March annually marks Zero Discrimination Day. It emphasises how people can be impacted and how they can promote solidarity, peace, and compassion. 

The day stands as a global demand for cultivating peace and solidarity to end discrimination in all its forms. 


Zero Discrimination Day

Zero Discrimination Day is a day that encourages equal values of all people and demands for an end to discrimination practices and laws based on gender, age, ethnicity, disability, skin colour, beliefs, etc. 

The United Nations (UN) for the first time marked this day on March 1, 2014. 

This after UNAIDS, a UN program on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), launched its Zero Discrimination Campaign on World AIDS Day in December 2013.

As UNAIDS states confronting inequalities and ending discrimination is critical to ending the menace of AIDS. 

It also states that the world is off track from delivering on the shared commitment to end AIDS by 2030. 

And the reason for this is not a lack of knowledge or capability or means to beat AIDS, but because of structural inequalities that hinder HIV prevention and treatment. 

Inequality is growing for more than 70% of the global population, exacerbating the risk of division and hampering economic and social development. 

And COVID-19 is hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest—even as new vaccines against COVID-19 are becoming available, there is great inequality in accessing them. 

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Zero Discrimination Day: Covid-19 hasn’t helped the mission for equality

Many have equated this to vaccine apartheid.

On the other hand, it is widely acknowledged that discrimination continues to undermine efforts to achieve a more just and equitable world and causes pain and suffering for many. 

Discrimination manifests itself in many forms, from racial or religious discrimination to discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or age, and to bullying at school or work environments. 


Zero Discrimination against Women and Girls

Gender equality affects everyone’s well-being and prosperity. Acknowledging this, the theme of Zero Discrimination Day 2021, is “Zero Discrimination against Women and Girls.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone’s life harder and difficult. However, those belonging to marginalised groups were more challenged and another layer was added to their existing discrimination. 

This is not limited to a single sphere. From health, economy, job prospects to violence, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and young women as well. 

The year 2020, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, was intended to be ground-breaking for gender equality. 

Instead, with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, even the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back. 

The pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems which are in turn amplifying the impacts of the pandemic.


UN Policy

This policy brief by the UN Secretary-General explores how women and young women’s lives are changing in the face of COVID-19, and outlines suggested priority measures to accompany both the immediate response and longer-term recovery efforts.

Among other things, it highlights that unpaid care work has increased, with children out-of-school, heightened care needs of older persons and overwhelmed health services, and as the COVID-19 pandemic deepens economic and social stress coupled with restricted movement and social isolation measures, gender-based violence is increasing exponentially. 

Many women are being forced to ‘lockdown’ at home with their abusers at the same time that services to support survivors are being disrupted or made inaccessible.

In addition, many countries around the world still have in force different laws that discriminate against women. 

Institutions, lawmakers and stakeholders today discuss and suggest different ways, how we can all together end discrimination in a collective effort and talk about the importance of sexual and reproductive health between communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Butterfly – A symbol of positive transformation 

Today you may see butterflies everywhere in your social media. 

Butterfly is the beautiful and meaningful symbol of Zero Discrimination Day. It is a symbol widely used to share experiences, stories and photos as a form to end discrimination and strive for a positive transformation around the globe. 

The symbol unites people calling for a worldwide transformation to achieve zero discrimination. 

A great step against discriminating each-other is knowing the other and working together. We introduce you to an organisation doing an incredible job in bringing Western Balkan youth together.

Read about RISE and their work.

RISE: Bringing Western Balkan Youth Together

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