Should minorities and marginalized be treated differentially?

By Queen Mukagitore

Marginalize;  to put or keep (someone) in a powerless or unimportant position within a society or group (http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/marginalize) According to the Macmillan dictionary minorities are a part of the population that is different in race, religion or culture from most of the population.

When one comes across the word minorities, the first thing that may come to your mind is various ethnic groups and when it comes to marginalized race and culture are most likely to dominate

These groups of individuals are classified as minority and marginalized groups however there are other groups that suffer the same consequences yet they are rarely spoken or had of. If I’m to elaborate a bit more about various groups in our communities who are segregated and looked down upon just because they are different.

Refugees- The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”(http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c125.html). These individuals are looked down upon and perceived as thieves, unhygienic and in some extreme cases terrorists. They seek refuge in pursuit of greener pastures and a better life especially for their children but they end up suffering more in the hands of those who are supposed to protect them.

People living with disabilities, when you come to think of it they are not so different from the rest of the population, they may be living with disabilities but still capable of accomplishing certain tasks. They may do it in a different way but at the end of the day they accomplish what they wanted to achieve.

Religion plays a vital role in our daily lives however it can also lead to discrimination based on one’s religious beliefs especially if one belongs to a religion that may be portrayed as being “negative” in the society. Article 18 of the Universal declaration of human rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom either alone or in his community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/)

All this brings me believe that minorities and marginalized should not be treated differentially because it only makes life more complicated for them and makes them feel like they are not part of the society/community. In this case one may wonder what can be done to raise awareness and ensure their voices are heard!

 One of the most important things that can be done is to ensure they are given equal opportunities in various sectors such as institutions and organizations. This would make them feel as part of the society and not classified as minorities and marginalized

In terms of access points they should be pavements that enable people living with disabilities especially those who use wheel chairs to move from one place to another with ease, especially in schools, homes, and work places

The education system should be equal and fair to all without classifying any individual based on their ability. My personal opinion about this statement would be including special programs for people living with disabilities in regular school programs instead of isolating them from other students.

These mechanisms will not only lead to a better society it will also make people have a sense of appreciation since there are so many people who are less fortunate. Integrating marginalized and minority groups into the community through discussions whereby they are given a chance to freely express their views about various issues facing the community as well as share their testimonies. Based on the government policy that ensures 64% women in parliament, a certain percentages should also be included for minorities to ensure they also have a say in the implementation of government policies.

Conclusion

Placing an individual in a powerless position makes him/her lack confidence and lowers their self esteem, separating a group based on their culture; race or religion makes these people continuously believe that they are different. Charity begins at home; the mechanisms mentioned above can only be effective if individuals and families start treating marginalized and minorities equally to an extent that they are part of the population then the government, institutions and organizations will follow in their footsteps.

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