Zero Discrimination Day: Do you live any form of exclusion?

Dignity is what makes us equal as human beings. The pandemic highlighted problems of violence linked to stigmatization. We must generate conditions to eradicate barriers to equality. Achieving the objectives requires combating discrimination.

Zero Discrimination Day: Do you live any form of exclusion?
Are you experiencing any form of exclusion? Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Inequality and discrimination in the world translate into increased levels of poverty that the pandemic accentuated, due to its effect on the economy, so combating them will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals with a more egalitarian society, considers the coordinator of the University Program for Human Rights (PUDH) of the UNAM, Luis Raul Gonzalez Perez.

To achieve this, it is necessary to link science and research to the solution of these major problems; to rely on higher education institutions that have a wealth of ideas and proposals; they must be seen for what they are: teaching centers for progress. Focusing public policy to help mitigate the economic effects of the health emergency, he explains on the occasion of Zero Discrimination Day.

"All the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda are interconnected: if we look at goals such as zero hunger and combating poverty, they have a fundamental role, but also gender equality, which is goal five. There has been progress, but perhaps we should put the accelerator because a study in 2018 revealed that the presence of women in public service was growing, but unfortunately, it was in operational positions; that is, it did not cover managerial positions. Progress is being made, but not enough," comments the lawyer.

The most recent National Survey on Discrimination (ENADIS), conducted in 2017 with the support of the UNAM, the National Human Rights Commission, INEGI, and Conacyt, revealed that 20.2 percent of the population aged 18 and over reported having been discriminated against in the last year because of some personal characteristic or condition, skin tone, way of speaking, weight or height, way of dressing or personal grooming, social class, a place where they live, religious beliefs, sex, age, and sexual orientation, recalls the university.

According to the document, it is added that 40.3 percent of the indigenous population declared having suffered it; and the same happened with 58.3 percent of people with disabilities; while 41.7 percent were relegated because of their religious beliefs. For this house of studies, discrimination against women is of particular concern, and although there has been advance so that, as it should be, they have a greater presence in the economic, social, and political spheres, there is still a lack of progress at the level of governing bodies.

The challenges are numerous in the issue of people in migration contexts where they face violence due to hunger, so the challenge remains important. "This tells us that we need education and more education, sensitization, culture to introject the conviction of respect for the dignity of all in equal rights. Dignity is what makes us equal as human beings," he says.

Higher education institutions have an important role to play in directing students towards a more equitable treatment of women, girls, the migrant population, people with disabilities, domestic workers, or people with diseases such as HIV.

"It is not enough that rights are in the Constitution, a sector that has been discriminated against is that of indigenous peoples and communities, although we have constitutional article two. Discrimination leads to the fact that the lowest economic levels in the country are in the states where there are a greater number of members of these indigenous peoples," adds who was the national ombudsman from 2014 to 2019.

The pandemic has highlighted the problems of violence linked to the stigmatization that exists in Mexico. It is necessary to fight against stereotypes and dogmas that accentuate violence against other people, so we must work to achieve real and substantive equality.

"The authorities of the different levels of government and powers must generate the conditions to make it effective, this is what is known as substantive or real equality. It is not enough to tell me that I am equal before the law if the barriers that make it impossible for me to achieve that equality are not eradicated," argues the expert.

Promoted by the United Nations General Assembly since 2013, March 1 celebrates the right of people to live a full and productive life with dignity. It highlights how they can become informed and foster inclusion, compassion, peace, and, above all, put an end to any form of exclusion.

In the case of Mexico, the Political Constitution establishes in its first article: "in the United Mexican States, all persons shall enjoy the human rights recognized in this Constitution and in the international treaties to which the Mexican State is a party, as well as the guarantees for their protection, the exercise of which may not be restricted or suspended, except in the cases and under the conditions established by this Constitution".

In its last paragraph, it adds: "any discrimination based on ethnic or national origin, gender, age, disabilities, social condition, health conditions, religion, opinions, sexual preferences, marital status or any other that violates human dignity and has the purpose of nullifying or impairing the rights and freedoms of persons is prohibited".

Although progress has been made in recent times, such as the recognition of Afro-descendants who were invisible, it is important to move from the norm to public policy, to strengthen education at all levels and UNAM plays a relevant role in this. In its teaching and research spheres, but also in the area of liaison, in the different spaces where discrimination exists.