March 1st is Zero Discrimination Day. First celebrated by the United Nations on March 1, 2014, the UN’s HIV/AIDS program UNAIDS launched its Zero Discrimination Campaign on World AIDS Day in December 2013.
On Zero Discrimination Day, 1 March, we celebrate the right of everyone to live a full and productive life—and live it with dignity. Zero Discrimination Day highlights how people can become informed about and promote inclusion, compassion, peace and, above all, a movement for change. Zero Discrimination Day is helping to create a global movement of solidarity to end all forms of discrimination.
Every year, Zero Discrimination Day has a focus. In 2020, UNAIDS challenged the discrimination faced by women and girls in all their diversity and raised awareness and mobilized action to promote equality and empowerment for women and girls. The year before saw UNAIDS urging action to change discriminatory laws in order to restore dignity and respect and save lives.
In 2021, UNAIDS is focused on “highlighting the urgent need to take action to end the inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, drug use, gender identity, race, class, ethnicity and religion that continue to persist around the world.”
Below is more information on Zero Discrimination Day 2021:
On Zero Discrimination Day this year, UNAIDS is highlighting the urgent need to take action to end the inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, drug use, gender identity, race, class, ethnicity and religion that continue to persist around the world.
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. Many have equated this to vaccine apartheid.
Confronting inequalities and ending discrimination is critical to ending AIDS. The world is off track from delivering on the shared commitment to end AIDS by 2030 not because of a lack of knowledge, capability or means to beat AIDS, but because of structural inequalities that obstruct proven solutions in HIV prevention and treatment. For example, recent research shows that gay men and other men who have sex with men are twice as likely to acquire HIV if they live in a country with punitive approaches to sexual orientation than if they live in a country with supportive legislation.
Tackling inequality is not a new commitment—in 2015, all countries pledged to reduce inequality within and between countries as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. But it is not yet one that the world has delivered on. As well as being core to ending AIDS, tackling inequality will also advance the human rights of people who are living with HIV, make societies better prepared to beat COVID-19 and other pandemics and support economic recovery and stability. Fulfilling the promise to tackle inequality will save millions of lives and benefit society as a whole. To do this, we must confront discrimination in all its forms.
But to achieve dignity for all, political, economic and social policies need to protect the rights of everyone and pay attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized communities.
Ending inequality requires transformative change. Greater efforts are needed to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and there is a need to invest more in health, education, social protection and decent jobs.
Governments must promote inclusive social and economic growth. They must eliminate discriminatory laws, policies and practices in order to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities.
But we can all play our part by calling out discrimination where we see it, by setting an example or by advocating to change the law. We all have a role to play in ending discrimination and so reducing inequalities.
We cannot achieve sustainable development and make the planet better for all if people are excluded from the chance of a better life. In today’s world, we are all interconnected. Global inequality affects us all, no matter who we are or where we are from.
This Zero Discrimination Day join us in raising awareness about the inequalities that prevent people from living a full and productive life and demanding that governments fulfil their commitments and obligations to end all forms of discrimination.