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Zero Discrimination Day 2021

February 28, 2021

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) first celebrated the Zero Discrimination Day on 1st March 2014. Sadly, 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 and it continues to undermine efforts to achieve a more just and equitable world and causes pain and suffering for many.

The theme for this year is “End Inequalities” and 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 (SDGs). On this day we have to highlight 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.

Confronting inequalities and ending discrimination is critical to ending AIDS and finding solutions in HIV prevention and treatment. Inequality is growing for more than 70 percent of the global population, exacerbating the risk of division and hampering economic and social development. Especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic, discrimination 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. Research has shown that this social and structural discrimination results in significant inequalities in access to justice and in health outcomes.

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. In order 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 marginalised communities.

Ending inequality for young people 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.

Let us stand out! Embrace the diversity that exists around us, understand and accept people’s differences, open minds, respect, and support one another.

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