It is not easy to understand the concept of positive discrimination, since this oxymoron suggests that it is a play on words whose meaning has no logic. The word discrimination, in terms of social behavior, defines actions carried out by people to generate inequalities in other groups. These are usually related to access to opportunities, services or resources that are necessary for everyone.
There are laws that discriminate, as well as practices, traditions, and policies that inherently lead to discrimination. An example of this are the laws that exist in some countries to prohibit homosexuality. The consequence of this can lead to the persecution and discrimination of men and women because of their sexual orientation.
In some countries such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen, the law condemns homosexuality to death. In other countries, the person is even sentenced to life imprisonment. On the other hand, in other places where there is no express law that accepts and protects homosexuals, they suffer from discrimination and social abuse that causes conflicts and insecurity for their physical and mental integrity.
How has positive discrimination been conceived?
The term positive discrimination has caused rejection and criticism since its appearance in the United States in the last century. There it arose as a result of the mistreatment and oppression that the black population received for many years. But, later, it was extended to other areas such as religious, ethnic, sexual, social and gender, among others.
Some authors describe it as a social policy designed from the State with which the lives of minority groups that have been discriminated against are favored and improved, with the idea of generating equality in terms of resources and opportunities.
In some countries, positive discrimination is also called affirmative action. It is a form of compensation for having caused damages in their way of life and damages from the emotional point of view and even physical and mental.
Positive discrimination involves a series of actions that seek to incorporate minority groups into programs, benefits and opportunities to improve their quality of life. Give them preferential treatment in terms of access to goods and services, and resources to attend to their problems and needs.
The majority of people are in favor and recognize the importance of positive discrimination in society. But there are people who, because of the potential threat of losing privileges or being disadvantaged, oppose this policy.
What are minority groups?
When speaking of positive discrimination, it is necessary to refer to minority groups, since these are the ones that, due to their condition, have generated the design of social policies for their attention.
The minority groups, according to the Agency of the United Nations Organization for Refugees (UNHCR) are: women and children of indigenous peoples who have been persecuted and violated for their way of life, forcing them to abandon their homes.
In addition to indigenous peoples, there are religious or linguistic groups that represent a small group within the population. According to this organization: “in many parts of the world, these groups can be victims of serious human rights violations, violence, conflict, ethnic or religious persecution and, in extreme cases, genocide. Consequently, they often have no choice but to flee ”.
Another example of this is found in the media. We recently came across news about the migratory movement of people fleeing their countries of origin due to their bad situation. The reasons are diverse, but in general they tend to be generated by natural tragedies or political and humanitarian crises.
Regarding ethnic groups, we can also mention minorities of women who have received abuse. Within their ethnic groups they are considered “second class members, subject to patriarchal structures and traditions, hence their function within their own social structure is secondary to that of men, whom by tradition they must serve in the domestic sphere and sexually”.
Likewise, UNHCR has also designed an age, gender and diversity policy with the aim of “guaranteeing that all persons of concern enjoy their rights under equal conditions and can fully participate in decisions that affect their lives and the lives of their families and communities ”.
The case of this NGO has the support of the UN. Organization that, through the agreements signed with various countries, can favor those nations where there are minorities or minority groups that suffer segregation, abuse, neglect, repression, persecution and any other type of offense. Be this of an individual, family or social nature.
Are there minorities that dominate?
Regarding the concept of minority groups, this term arose from the recognition of a behavior that has been present in all societies. It is a small group or groups within a society whose members are or have been victims of discrimination, harm or persecution by other groups.
They are also known as those who are not dominant within a society. Usually because it is made up of a small number of members or because it has historically been under the control of a stronger group.
In this case we can use the example of apartheid. This was a racial segregation system that was imposed in South Africa and Namibia to keep the black population apart. This was intended to achieve, by dividing into different racial groups, that a white minority (21%) remained in power.
Another definition of minority groups is one that specifies that it is not about or related to race. Rather it depends on the treatment that has been given historically and traditionally, which means that they have been groups created by the society to which they belong.
How does this apply in a society?
As already discussed, in a society there are minority groups with differences between them. This is why the need arises to design public policies aimed at recognizing these differences and favoring these groups through declaration, integration and equal opportunities to improve their quality of life.
These opportunities are usually associated with access to education, services, consumer goods and satisfaction of needs, economic resources, education, development of social projects, etc.
These actions may be designed by the State and promoted and promoted through laws, agreements and regulations. These actions seek to integrate all social actors in compliance with the policy for the benefit of the identified minorities.
Some examples of positive discrimination can be:
- The laws that some countries have passed for the integration of people with disabilities in the production process or to become part of a public organization.
- In some nations, the State has promoted laws that oblige large companies and organizations to incorporate employees (between 2% and 5%) with disabilities on their payroll. Many companies that comply with this law receive special bonuses for hiring this type of person.
- Another example has been the tuition reserved for “special” boys and girls and with certain conditions for their schooling, and also to assist and guide families with limited resources.
- Tax exemption for sectors and families with few resources.
- There are laws that grant recognition and ownership of the lands that have belonged to native peoples. These are understood as the groups of men and women descended from pre-Columbian cultures that have maintained and preserved their culture, language, customs and characteristics.
- The special laws that some countries have enacted to favor immigrants.
- The obligation that exists in some countries to include women in political office.
- The preferential treatment that some organizations of goods and services must give to the elderly, disabled or pregnant women in terms of not queuing or waiting seated and comfortably.
- Seats in buses and transport systems that are marked and reserved for people with disabilities, the elderly and pregnant women.
- Scholarships for students that benefit certain social groups.
A society where positive discrimination is promoted and developed is undoubtedly a society that shows progress, understanding, tolerance and human sensitivity. Even when there are no laws or regulations that encourage positive discrimination, it is a sign of humanity to avoid discrimination and abuse in any of its manifestations: verbal, physical, emotional or psychological.
It may also be interesting for you to read about what is the Right to be Forgotten on the internet.