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International Women's Day 2003
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Vocabulary of Inequality

To discriminate is to treat people unequally or unfairly because of some reason which they cannot help, or which is not relevant to the matter in hand. For instance, to pay two people differently for doing the same job simply because one is a woman, or black, or a Muslim, or speaks with a different accent. There are other sorts of unfair discrimination - because of your religion, disability, age, because you speak a different language, or because of your political opinions.

Discrimination because of race or skin color or where ancestry originates is called racism.

Discrimination because you are male or female (your gender) is called sexism.

Discrimination often happens because people make decisions about other people which are not based on genuine reasons, ie they are prejudiced. Usually they think the other person is automatically inferior because of their race, religion or gender etc. Stereotyping is to assume that all people from a certain group or societal segment possess the same characteristics. If you hear someone say, "All (group X people) are lazy" (or noisy, or untrustworthy), that's a stereotype.

The aim of the United Nations is to help all people, individually and as groups, to be valued equally and treated fairly. The UN has produced many declarations and conventions which set people's rights .

Article 1.3 of the UN Charter provides ". . . fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion".

All of the countries which are UN members must let their citizens know these rights and how to obtain them. Knowing your rights is one step towards overcoming discrimination.