Discrimination-free society for a better, beautiful world

We need to talk about discrimination and create awareness that treating people unfairly is a violation of human rights

Tasneem HossainTasneem Hossain
Published : 28 Feb 2024, 10:31 PM
Updated : 28 Feb 2024, 10:31 PM
Let’s not be trapped by faint discrimination or intolerance preventing us from creating open perspectives. If we rise above the imprisonment of fixed ideas, we make an essential step toward personal growth and self-esteem
Erik Pevernagie

How many times have we heard of people facing discrimination? How many times have you faced discrimination? 

Unfortunately, most of us have faced discrimination at some point in our lives.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is the biassed, unjust, or prejudiced treatment of an individual, or groups of people, based on characteristics like race, ethnicity, class, gender, age, sexual orientation, skin colour, health status, occupation, income, religion and various other aspects that directly or indirectly create segregation among people.

Unfortunately, even in this advanced age, it exists like a time bomb in social situations, workplaces, healthcare facilities and at home all around the globe. 

Discrimination in any form can seriously harm people’s health and well-being. When it happens people experience fear, stress, and anxiety; face stigma and social isolation leading to hazardous behaviours, further affecting their overall well-being.

People discriminate when there is a lack of understanding or resist things they don’t understand; they are insecure about themselves and don’t know the truth. Pride is another reason that humans discriminate. 

We need to talk about discrimination and create awareness that treating people unfairly is a violation of human rights.

The war against discrimination has been going on for a long time. Inspiring personalities like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, George Orwell, Helen Keller, and Nelson Mandela all stood up against discrimination. 

Some of the bestselling books like The Viral Underclass (Steven W. Thrasher), Caste (Isabel Wilkerson), Evicted (Matthew Desmond), and Invisible Women (Caroline Criado Perez) deal with Discrimination in its many forms and voice their thoughts against it through their protagonists.

States have a moral, as well as legal obligation to eradicate discriminatory laws and enact some laws and policies to protect people from the curse of discrimination.

Many countries have laws against discrimination but it's still a problem in different layers of society in those countries.

Regrettably, many countries have and still use discrimination as a way to govern.

Sadly, some reports show that inequality is continuously growing for more than 70 percent of the global population, slowing down economic and social development.

Imagine a world free from discrimination: a diverse, equitable and inclusive world where each human being is treated equally!

Zero Discrimination Day is celebrated globally on  Mar 1, every year. It’s an annual celebration by the United Nations and other international organisations to acknowledge that each individual matters before the law and in practice. The day creates momentum for the global movement of solidarity to end all forms of discrimination towards any individual; creates awareness for the right of everyone to live a full and productive life with dignity; promotes equality and inclusion of diversity; peace and compassion. 

Michel Sidibé, who was the UNAIDS Director in 2013, came up with the idea from World AIDS Day, a day that fights against maltreatment of those affected with HIV/AIDS and launched the Zero Discrimination Campaign in December 2013. The day was first celebrated by the UN on Mar 1, 2014.

The symbol for Zero Discrimination Day is the butterfly for transformation- a positive transformation of the mindsets of people to accept inclusiveness in diversity. People share their stories and photos with this symbol as a means to end discrimination. 

This year, 2024, marks the tenth anniversary of Zero Discrimination Day. The theme of 2024 is 'to protect everyone's health, protect everyone's rights,' emphasising the importance and need to protect people's health, and rights, and to put an end to AIDS. The whole month of March will be dedicated to this purpose through events, activities and messages to remind the world of this vital lesson and a call to action.

Schools, universities, businesses, and other organisations of many countries take part in the day and host events to highlight the need for improved discrimination laws. 

Discrimination is still a big problem today. To make real progress, we need to end discrimination at the basic level in our communities. It’s essentially a human rights violation and needs to be challenged and dealt with seriously. 

Every one of us can do something to make a difference. Even small actions can cause a ripple effect and make societies more equal and fair.

Let’s all wage a war against the discrimination faced by women and girls in all their diversity raise awareness and mobilise actions to promote equality and empowerment for women and girls. The International Women’s Day campaign theme this year, on Mar 1, is 'Inspire Inclusion'. It's crucial to empower women and promote their inclusion in all spheres of life to accelerate sustainable development. To acquire this, ending all forms of discrimination towards women and providing equal access to education and opportunities for employment is a must. It will eventually help them to be equal players in decision-making – be it climate change or other issues and have a chain reaction in all other development areas. 

Facing discrimination at work can be detrimental to the mental health and well-being of the workforce. Organisations need to support and deal with it strongly.

Discrimination against race and ethnicity is a grave issue in the workplace. As many as 70 percent of people admit that they face discrimination at the workplace. Inclusion promotes creativity and generates fresh perspectives and ideas, enhancing people’s experience and thereby boosting productivity.

Perhaps, the first step to promote a zero-discrimination culture in the workplace is to implement an effective bias-free recruitment process.

Regular awareness training on diversity and anti-discrimination are great ways to maintain a zero-discrimination culture. These help employees become more aware of unconscious biases; motivate positive behaviours; and create a culture of respect, diversity and inclusivity leading to a healthy environment.

Guaranteeing proper anti-discrimination policies and implementation ensures a comfortable, inclusive workplace for all.

We can also participate by sharing the day on social media; joining campaigns; celebrating everyone’s differences; appreciating how different and unique each person is; helping others to be free from bias; helping friends if they have experienced any discrimination; making them aware of its effects on their health and well-being; help them to avail services for the just cause. Implementation of actions at home for a discrimination-free environment is also important.

We still have a long way to go. Knowing about discrimination is crucial, especially for those who experience it. But knowing that discrimination exists isn't enough. A collective effort by all to take action is needed to remove discrimination to create a more inclusive world.  

We, as individuals, are responsible for our thoughts and actions. Let's celebrate humanity in all its differences to work together to create a world free of prejudice and discrimination. 

It starts from our households first, then the society, educational institutions, our workplaces and the world around us.

We need to put a stop to this. Say ‘NO’ to discrimination.

We may belong to different races and have different colours. We may speak different languages and follow different religions. We may have different perceptions and live in different realities. But we all live in one world and belong to a single humanity.
Mouloud Benzadi

Before God, we, humans are all equal. Let’s try to awaken our inner conscience and stand against a society that discriminates against people.

Will you be a part of the greater good and help make this world a better, beautiful place where all can lead a happy discrimination-free life?

Let's act and make it happen!

[Tasneem Hossain is a multilingual poet, columnist, op-ed and fiction writer, translator, and education and training consultant. She is the Director of Continuing Education Centre, Bangladesh.]