Discrimination and inequalities are closely intertwined. Intersecting forms of discrimination, be it structural or social, against individuals and groups can lead to a wide range of inequalities—for example, in income, educational outcomes, health and employment. However, inequalities themselves can also lead to stigma and discrimination. It is critical, therefore, when looking to reduce inequalities to address discrimination. Members of key populations are often discriminated against, stigmatized and, in many cases, criminalized and targeted by law enforcement. Research has shown that this social and structural discrimination results in significant inequalities in access to justice and in health outcomes.
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.
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.
MESSAGE FROM UNAIDS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
This year’s Zero Discrimination Day is an especially poignant one.
It was said at first that viruses don’t discriminate. But as we’ve witnessed again, crises, and societies, do.
COVID-19 has magnified the fissures in society. It has seen marginalized communities, who were already on the edge, taking the hardest economic hit, getting stuck at the back of the line for vital services and getting scapegoated for the crisis.
Yet the crisis has also seen the most excluded communities being, once again, the first to step up to help—rooted in their expertise from experience, in their empathy and in their insistence that health for all and a recovery for all is possible.
UNAIDS joins with communities across the world in demanding equality. We say a resolute no to all inequalities—whether because of gender, income, race, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion. Such inequalities disfigure society and undermine justice and dignity.
Participate in this year's Zero Discrimination Day by shining a light on inequalities and doing your part in helping to address them. Use the following materials on your digital platforms to show the world that inequalities cost lives and that it is time to end them.