International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

By Rebekka Ravn Lange-Nielsen March 24, 2021 Weekly Graphs

March 21 marked the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which the UN has celebrated every year since 1960, when 69 people were killed at a peaceful anti-Apartheid demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa. The UN takes the day as an opportunity to raise awareness for persistent racial inequalities and ongoing efforts to reduce them.  

In 1979, the UN General Assembly launched many activities within the so-called Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. This year’s theme, “Youth standing up against racism,” builds on the large-scale Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and highlights the disproportionate effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on disadvantaged groups in society. 

V-Dem’s Equal access index sheds light on the distribution of power by socioeconomic position, gender, and social group. It is measured on a scale from 0 (low) to high (1), and aims to assess the differences in people’s capabilities to participate, take over positions of political power, set the agenda, and have a say in policy-making. 

The animated map below shows the Equal access index’s global development over the last century, from 1920 to 2020. Darker blue hues indicate more equal access to power. The maps reflect some important political events over the previous 100 years.  

For instance, Spain changes in the 1970s when the country transitioned to democracy. The map also shows the end of the apartheid system in South Africa in the 1990s. Despite visible improvements in equal access to power, the map demonstrates that there is room for improvement in many countries around the world. 

For more information about the data, please visit the V-Dem website.

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