International Albinism Awareness Day 2023
International Albinism Awareness Day is celebrated every year on June 13th to raise awareness about a genetic skin condition known as Albinism and to promote the rights and well-being of individuals with Albinism worldwide. The day aims to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding this condition and to foster the inclusion of people with Albinism in all aspects of society, without facing discrimination.
By observing this day, efforts are made to educate the public about Albinism, its causes, and its effects on individuals. It serves as a platform to highlight the challenges faced by people with Albinism, such as visual impairments and sensitivity to sunlight, and to advocate for their rights to healthcare, education, employment, and equal opportunities.
The Theme of International Albinism Awareness Day 2023
The theme for this year’s International Albinism Awareness Day is “Inclusion is Strength,” which builds upon the previous year’s theme of “United in making our voice heard.” The primary objective of this theme is to ensure that the voices of individuals with albinism are included and valued in all aspects of life. It underscores the significance of including a diverse range of individuals, both within and outside the albinism community, in discussions related to albinism.
The theme emphasizes the following key points:
- Inclusive Representation: It highlights the importance of including various groups within the albinism community, such as youth, women, children, older persons, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals with albinism from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. By ensuring diverse representation, the aim is to provide a platform for different perspectives and experiences within the community.
- Collaboration and Embracing Albinism: It calls for collaboration and acceptance of albinism within the broader disability movement. This involves recognizing the specific needs and rights of individuals with albinism and ensuring their inclusion in decision-making processes that impact their lives.
- Seeking Synergies: The theme encourages forging partnerships with human rights groups and other organizations outside the albinism movement. By collaborating with these groups, it is possible to create synergies, share knowledge, and collectively work toward promoting the rights and well-being of individuals with albinism.
By highlighting the importance of inclusion and collaboration, this year’s theme aims to strengthen the voices and presence of individuals with albinism across various sectors of society, fostering a more inclusive and equal world for everyone.
History of International Albinism Awareness Day
On December 18, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that designated June 13th as International Albinism Awareness Day. This significant resolution solidified the global commitment to advocating for the rights and well-being of individuals with albinism. In collaboration with Under the Same Sun, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of people with albinism, the late Ambassador Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari from the Mission of Somalia to the U.N. in Geneva played a key role in the adoption of the resolution.
Following the resolution’s adoption, NOAH (the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation) actively participated in a U.N. “side event” to commemorate this milestone. During the event, Ambassador Bari-Bari shared a story with Pope Francis, enlightening him about the atrocities faced by individuals with albinism in Africa. The event was attended by several dignitaries, including representatives from the U.N. delegations of Italy, Israel, Canada, and the United States, the U.N. Special Representative on Violence against Children, a representative from UNICEF, and notable figures from the albinism community.
The establishment of International Albinism Awareness Day serves as an opportunity for people worldwide to come together and raise awareness about albinism. It is a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of individuals with albinism while advocating for their rights and combating the discrimination and challenges they face.
What is Albinism?
Albinism is a rare genetic condition that is present from birth and is not contagious.
- It occurs when both parents carry the gene for albinism, even if they don’t have the condition themselves.
- Albinism can affect both males and females of any ethnic background and is found in all countries.
- People with albinism have a lack of pigmentation, or melanin, in their hair, skin, and eyes. This makes them more sensitive to sunlight and bright light. As a result, most individuals with albinism have visual impairments and are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for the absence of melanin which is characteristic of albinism.
- The prevalence of albinism varies across different regions.
- In North America and Europe, it is estimated that approximately 1 in every 17,000 to 20,000 individuals have some form of albinism.
- However, the condition is more common in sub-Saharan Africa.
- In Tanzania, it is estimated that about 1 in 1,400 people are affected by albinism.
- In certain populations in Zimbabwe and specific ethnic groups in Southern Africa, the prevalence can be as high as 1 in 1,000.
Health challenges of people living with Albinism
- Individuals with albinism have a high vulnerability to developing skin cancer because of their lack of melanin.
- Tragically, in some countries, a majority of people with albinism die from skin cancer between the ages of 30 and 40.
- However, skin cancer is highly preventable when individuals with albinism have access to their right to health.
- This includes regular health check-ups, sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing.
- Unfortunately, in many countries, these life-saving resources are either unavailable or inaccessible to them.
- As a result, persons with albinism are among those who have been left behind in terms of development measures.
- It is crucial to target them for human rights interventions, as envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals.
- In addition to their susceptibility to skin cancer, persons with albinism often experience permanent visual impairment due to the lack of melanin in their skin and eyes.
- They also face discrimination based on their skin color, which leads to intersecting forms of discrimination on the grounds of both disability and color.
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