News

Albinism Awareness Day

This year the Albinism Awareness day, 13 June 2020, is celebrated under the theme “Made to Shine”. The event was organized under the overall leadership of AlbiMoz, a civil society organization of persons with albinism, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice Constitutional and Religious Affairs of Mozambique, and in collaboration with UNESCO. In Mozambique, the celebration took place at the Quisse Mavota Secondary School, in Maputo city. Due to circumstances triggered by the Covid-19, the number of attendees was limited to 20 to allow social distancing. The Mayor of Maputo City, Dr. Eneas Comiche, the City Councilor of Kamubukwana district, Rui Matusse, the National Director for Human Rights and Citizenship from the Ministry of Justice Constitutional and Religious Rights, Dr, Albachir Macassar, the Representative of UNESCO Mozambique, Mr. Paul Gomis, the President of Albimoz (an active civil society organizations of persons with albinism), Mr. Williamo Tomás, staff of the UN Human Rights office, and significant number of persons with albinism attended the event. The event was widely covered by the media.
Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 2014, the celebration of the Albinism Awareness day was an opportunity for UNESCO to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address developmental and human rights challenges faced by persons with albinism, to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. Given the circumstances in which the event occurred UNESCO took the opportunity to support the event by providing masks and alcohol gel for persons with albinism. As pointed out by Mr. Gomis, the “State of Emergency”, triggered by the Covid-19 aggravates the discrimination and violations of human rights already faced by persons with albinism, particularly women and children. In this context, many of them have been left behind because their physical appearance already expose them to myths, exclusion, various degrees of stigmatization and human rights abuse, extending from being discriminated and bullied to being killed for their body parts. 
This day is important in Mozambique, across Africa, and indeed throughout the world. Albinism is a rare, genetically inherited, non-contagious condition resulting in a deficiency of melanin pigment in hair, eyes, and skin. It occurs worldwide, however its prevalence tends to be highest in Sub-Saharan African countries. For UNESCO, under its mandate to build peace of minds of children, women and men, a society of tolerance and respect for human rights, this day was intended to raise awareness, expose and make steps to addressing some of the issues Persons with Albinism face in their lives.