UN Anti-racism expert answers questions in live online discussion

Gay McDougall knows what effects extreme racial discrimination can have on an individual and a community. Growing up in the United States of America during the period of legal segregation known as Jim Crow, she experienced deprivation and brutality of the system that controlled and condemned of African Americans to an unequal and often tragic lives.

But McDougall confronted this prejudice head on. She became the first African American woman to integrate an all-white Presbyterian liberal arts school in her native Georgia. She joined the U.S. civil rights movement. Later, after graduating from law school she had dedicated her career to fighting for equality and justice across the globe.

“I think it gave me the sense that something could be done about it and that has been my guiding view all my life, that discrimination is terribly wrong and that it ruins the life chances not just of the individual but whole communities and that something can be done about it,” she said.

McDougall, who is the newest member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, brings her expertise and passion for racial equality and justice, to an online question and answer forum hosted by Reddit. The live session is part of the commemoration of the Day to Eliminate All Forms of Racial discrimination.

During the session, McDougall will answer questions on a variety areas related to combating racism and racial discrimination, including how to best access the relevant UN Human Rights mechanisms.  McDougall said that UN Human Rights Office has a lot of ways to help in the fight against racism, the biggest being to hold countries to account. And getting countries and individuals to face up to the harm that racism does is one of the biggest challenges.

“I think that one of the most important thing is the message to policy makers and populations around the world right now tis that societies as a whole pay for discrimination,” she said. “They lose economically, politically, culturally when they exclude whole population groups. And I think we have enough evidence, hard evidence, to make the business case against discrimination.”

American actor and rights activist Danny Glover wants everyone to "Make it a priority to participate in this important question and answer event". "Gay McDougal is a stalwart global public servant," he said. "Over her lifetime she has collaborated in research and policy recommendations to achieve respect, justice, and development for Africa and the hundreds of millions of Afro Descendants in the Diasporas of Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Active exchange and participation from you, the citizens, immigrants, and exiles of Africa and the African Diasporas is required to transform the research and policy recommendations into effective, sustainable development."

You can join the conversation, which starts at 1600 eastern standard time on Monday, 21 March 2016.

18 March 2016

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