Value diversity means acknowledging and appreciating the differences and similarities among all human beings. While the basic needs are similar, there is a broad variety of identity traits when it comes to gender, class, culture, ethnicity, religion, nationality or language. Respecting diversity entails to recognize that these differences shape each person’s identity while being open to other cultures and identities. Non-discrimination refers to the principle that no one should be treated differently due to a certain set of identity criterias and nobody should be deprived from their political, social, civic, economic or cultural freedoms and rights. Non-discrimination is a central element of human rights and is also reflected in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 20th, 1989. States must guarantee the rights of this Convention to every child, without exception; and must take the necessary measures to
protect children from all kinds of discrimination. In its Article 2 the Convention says: Article 2.1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
Article 2.2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis
of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or family members. Discriminaion prevents individuals and communities
from exercising and enjoying their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Discrimination also impacts on society as a whole, reinforcing prejudice and racist attitudes. Discrimination is often based on ignorance, prejudices and negative stereotypes.
Because many people fear what seems strange or unknown, they react with suspicion or even violence to anyone whose appearance, culture or behavior is unfamiliar. Attitudes, actions or institutional practises that subordinate or marginalize anyone can be considered discrimination. Racism in particular has historical roots in beliefs in the superiority of one group over another, beliefs that were once used to justify discrimination against ‘inferior’ groups. Although such beliefs are now widely rejected, racial discrimination nevertheless continues to exist. Other forms of discrimination include sexism, ageism, homophobia, abilism, antisemitism and religious intolerance and xenophobia, a fear or hatred of foreigners or foreign countries.
Education for non-discrimination
The Gainkids project on global education recognises the need to develop in every child a tolerant, non-discriminatory attitude and create a learning environment that acknowledges and benefits from diversity instead of ignoring or excluding it. Starting from early school education, as part of children development, professionals and practitioners working with children, families as well as children themselves, should in first term become aware of their own and others’ discriminatory potential behaviours. Educational activities, such as the examples provided in Gainkids’ Handbook and website, encourage and support children to raise awareness and empathy, train them to deconstruct stereotypes and prejudices, and develops resilience and assertiveness to confront discrimination.