March 21st marks an important day in the fight against racial injustice. On this day in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". After these terrible events, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination in 1966. From then on, 21 March is known as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Whilst today shares its place with South Africa’s ‘Human Rights Day’, across the world, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is helping to build an international framework for fighting racism. Guided by the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, we can all use today to recognise the principle of equality - that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
This year’s theme is “Voices for Action Against Racism.” The theme aims to show the importance of strengthening meaningful and safe public participation and representation in all areas of decision-making to prevent and combat racial discrimination.
At Utilita, we think this is more important than ever and are proud to be an inclusive workplace. So, we have recently launched five Inclusivity and Diversity (I&D) focus groups, where all members of staff have a safe space to come together with like-minded individuals and discuss their experiences at work. Most importantly, these groups are a crucial space for any member of our staff to make Utilita a better place each day (both internally and externally) and we’re elated by the incredible level of participation from all staff. We won’t stop until every staff member feels safe, equal, validated, and proud to be a Utilita employee!
Recognising racism isn’t always easy. But it’s important that each day we educate ourselves so that we all feel prepared and confident to stand up to inequality in every place we see it. One of the best places to start is to raise awareness of days like today and spread the message that hate won’t be tolerated. The UN have made some fantastic resources where you can share your support online and across your social media.