Creating a world where everyone is treated fairly whatever their face looks like.

Face Equality International is an alliance of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), charities and support groups which are working at national, regional or international levels to promote the campaign for ‘face equality’.

We aim to improve the life prospects of any person anywhere in the world who has a facial difference or disfigurement *, an unusual-looking, scarred or asymmetrical face.

The mission of Face Equality International (FEI) is to mobilise the many groups and organisations, big and small, national and international, which support and represent people with disfigurements and thereby to create the critical mass and solidarity needed to gain global attention for the campaign for face equality.

FEI will raise the profile of disfigurement and put the issues people with disfigurements experience on the agenda of the UN Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), international bodies, companies and social media outlets.

Face Equality International is an alliance of NGOs/charities around the world that are supporting and representing people with many different disfigurements. Most of these NGOs are condition-specific (eg: clefts, burns, cranio-facial conditions, psoriasis etc) and their members have very different medical and surgical needs and treatments. But their members face very similar cultural and social barriers to living fulfilling lives.

Many people report (and academic studies bear this out) feeling low self-esteem in the global ‘look-perfect’ culture, being isolated and friendless, facing teasing, ridicule and staring in public places, low expectations in school, problems getting work, discrimination in the workplace, abuse on social media and stereotyping in the media just because of the way they look. In many countries, disfigurement goes hand in hand with poverty, prejudice and exclusion.

Face Equality International will facilitate charities working together to tackle these injustices, enable the sharing of best practice and be an incubator (capacity-builder) for NGOs to campaign for face equality and against disfigurement discrimination in their own settings. It will be a learning exchange and set global standards on how to challenge disfigurement discrimination (eg: at work) and promote face equality (eg: in schools). It will also co-ordinate an International Face Equality Day in May 2019 and in future years.

The alliance will make common cause with organisations and alliances representing other equality issues and diversity strands.

The vision of Face Equality International is that all societies across the world accept, respect and value people with facial differences who can then lead the lives they wish unaffected by prejudice, low expectations and discrimination.

* ‘Disfigurement’ is a collective term that describes the visual effect that a congenital or other condition, paralysis or scar can have on the appearance of a person’s face, hands or body. It can affect anyone from any social or demographic group and at any time in life.

Disfigurement far too often imposes disadvantage on individuals and their families and is a publicly-understood term that expresses this. It is also enshrined in legislation in some countries to protect people from discrimination. Face Equality International will continue to use ‘disfigurement’ whenever it is arguing for the end to disadvantage and injustice.

However, Face Equality International also respects the fact that many people dislike the term and will therefore often use phrases like ‘facial difference’, ‘visible difference’ or ‘unusual appearance’ instead of disfigurement as these are far less stigmatising. Wherever possible, Face Equality International will encourage the condition or cause of a person’s disfigurement to be explained informatively thereby raising public understanding.

Photograph courtesy of Changing Faces