Face Equality Week, championed by Face Equality International (FEI), is this year focusing on counteracting stigma with the #We Will Not Hide campaign.
FEI, the organization which works to protect the human rights of people with disfigurements is an Alliance of 36 worldwide non-profits that campaign to promote face equality, seeking to put an end to discrimination against people with facial or bodily visible differences.
“Together, we can create a world where anyone with a facial difference is free to be unapologetically themselves. In order to celebrate what makes us ‘different,’ first we must recognize that it is society that must change, not us. It is the limiting perceptions placed on faces and bodies that do not conform to the ‘norm’ that we must change,” said Phyllida Swift, CEO of Facial Equality International.
Gareth Davies (ECO) was a founder member of FEI and works closely with the organisation in his role as Council Member. “Stigma must be a key campaign theme. What we need to think about, is what does the world need to look like for people with a visible difference to be able to lead their lives free of disadvantage and discrimination”
Over 100 million people worldwide have a mark, scar or condition which affects their facial appearance.
Throughout history, equality laws have failed to protect the facial difference community from harm. ‘Ugly Laws’ outlawed this community from being seen in public until the 1970s. The legacy of this systemic oppression remains today, where people with facial differences (FD) are forcibly hidden from sight around the world, but also through the absence of representation of FD on our screens and the censorship of the community on social media. The false notion that facial differences shouldn’t be celebrated, leads many people to internalise the idea that their faces are not worthy of being seen.
Counteracting stigma is one of the features to be covered in a new EU Erasmus + funded training programme, coordinated by ECO with partners in 8 countries. More details can be found on our home page.