Despite a revitalization in recent years of the global movement for racial justice, racism remains deeply embedded and pervasive. Its continued existence has been seen all too clearly in the compounded effects of ongoing crises, such as differentiated health outcomes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated impact of the effects of climate change and environmental degradation, and international law violations experienced by refugees when trying to escape war zones.

Statement: Voices for action against racism

Recognizing and eliminating this has been a long endeavour over many decades, including for people of African descent, minorities and other marginalized and disadvantaged groups. It is now 30 years since the United Nations adopted its landmark Declaration on the Rights of National, Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

Today we focus particular attention on women and girls of minority backgrounds from around the world, amplifying their voices and visibility, promoting their rights and recognizing them as indispensable agents of change.

The pledge made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “leave no one behind” is especially relevant for women and girls facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. UN Women is committed to working with Member States and the rest of the UN system to ensure that the voices and experiences of minority women and girls are at the forefront of efforts to work in an inclusive, meaningful and transformational manner.

It is important that we enforce and implement constitutional provisions that can positively recognize the existence of minorities and combat racism against them. UN Women’s newly updated Global Gender Equality Constitutional Database includes 63 constitutions containing such provisions. These are important protective frameworks for the rights of national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we emphasize the long-term approach needed to eliminate racism, and commit to continuing to make racial justice a priority for the women and girls we serve, whose voices must be heard and concerns acted upon.