Face Equality International was launched on November 5, 2018 as a unique alliance of charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which want to see the campaign for 'face equality' become a global movement. This alliance will build on the success of the campaign by Changing Faces in the UK and Sunshine Foundation in Taiwan so as to transform the lives of people with facial differences or disfigurements around the world.
Face Equality International is the brainchild of James Partridge, the founder and former CEO of the UK charity Changing Faces. Partridge says that disfigurement is a neglected global human rights issue: "Wherever they live in the world, people with disfigurements have to deal with many psychological, social and economic challenges in living confident, successful lives in the 21st century." Founding members include the Sunshine Welfare Foundation in Taiwan, Smile Train, the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and FACES in the US, AboutFace in Canada, the European Cleft Organisation in the Netherlands, the Smile Foundation in South Africa and Changing Faces in the UK.
Sunshine began promoting Face Equality in Taiwan in 2010 and since 2014, it has celebrate Face Equality Day every year on May 17. Sunshine Foundation's CEO, Ms. Ching-Hsien SHU, says: "People with disfigurement often face discrimination and unfair treatment, especially at school or when looking for a job. But a study we did in Taiwan found that among the general public, 1 person out of 8 has experienced negative treatment because of appearance. Judging people by how they look is prevalent in our society, that's why we feel that Face Equality is a basic right. By promoting Face Equality, we not only hope to improve the status of people with facial disfigurement, but we also hope to create a friendlier, more equal environment that is more respectful of diversity."
Society should look beyond appearances and see the unique stories behind each face
Tsai-Yu KUO was burned when she was 9 years old. Apart from having to undergo a long process of recovery, she's had to deal with the stares and negative comments of people about her scars. But Tsai-Yu never gave up and never let negativity get her down, she has constantly strived to show that she's the same as anyone else. She's also a spokesperson for Sunshine's Face Equality campaign, sharing her story during social education activities in schools and communities: "We can't entirely escape being judged by our appearance. But if our appearance is what people see first, at least it should be the starting point to finding a deeper meaning. People should make the effort to look beyond our appearance and get to know the multitude of stories behind each of our faces. Every face is different, we are all unique but we all deserve to be respected and treated fairly."