Zero Discrimination Day

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The world is celebrating Zero Discrimination Day 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.  There is no doubt that 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. 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.

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