On this March 1 st , when we celebrate the Zero Discrimination Day, I would like to invite you to reflect about inequalities around you, your family, your community, inside your village and even inside your country. And ask you a simple question: how do you think inequalities affect the world around you?
Inequality is growing for more than 70% of the global population, exacerbating the risk of division and obstructing economic and social development.
And as we all have seen this past year, COVID-19 is hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest—even as new vaccines are becoming available, there is great inequality in accessing them around the world. We are all witnessing what people are already calling “the vaccine apartheid.”
On this Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS wants to highlight the urgent need to take action to end the inequalities surrounding all aspects of our rich diversity as human beings.
The region of Latin America and the Caribbean is known as one of the world’s most unequal region, where inequalities and discrimination strongly persist, which directly affects people living with or vulnerable to HIV, including migrants and refugees, indigenous people, people of African descent, the LGBT community, young people, and women.
And our challenge is that here in the region and around the world, discrimination and inequalities are closely connected. Intersecting forms of discrimination, be it structural or social, against individuals and groups can lead to a wide range of inequalities, which can also lead to stigma and discrimination.
Research has shown that this social and structural discrimination results in significant inequalities in access to justice and in health outcomes.
As UNAIDS prepares to launch its new Global AIDS Strategy this year, we invite you to join us in Ending Inequalities. This is the core principle of the new strategy and the collaboration of each one of you, will be key for the achievement of our 2030 Agenda goal of ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat.
As well as being central 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 in all its dimensions. To do this, we must confront discrimination in all its forms.
The Global Partnership to Eliminate All Forms of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination – a joint initiative of UNAIDS, UN Women, UNDP and the Global Network of People Living with HIV can guide us through the six key areas where stigma and discrimination occurs most reinforcing inequalities: health and education settings, the workplace, the justice system, families and communities, and emergency and humanitarian settings.
Recognizing the equal worth and dignity of every person is not only an ethical imperative and an obligation arising from international human rights instruments but is also central to ending AIDS by 2030.