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’.

Our aim

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 (or body) from any cause.

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 facial differences and 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 experienced by people with disfigurements 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 (ie: for people with clefts, burns, cranio-facial conditions, psoriasis and other conditions) and their members have very different medical and surgical needs and treatments. But their members also face very similar psychological, 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, will 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 Week in May each year, the first one being successfully achieved in May 2019.

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 who have facial differences and disfigurements so that they can then lead the lives they wish unaffected by prejudice, low expectations and stigma.

Our vocabulary

We use ‘disfigurement’ as 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 use ‘disfigurement’ whenever it is arguing for the end to disadvantage and injustice.

However, Face Equality International also respects the fact that some people dislike the term ‘disfigurement’ as a collective word, in which case ‘facial difference’ tends to be more widely accepted. In some instances, ‘visible difference’ may be used when relating to a disfigurement that affects a person’s face and body.

Wherever possible, Face Equality International will encourage the condition or cause of a person’s distinctive appearance to be explained informatively thereby raising public awareness and understanding.

Our remit

Face Equality International’s remit is to advocate for people who have any condition which can affect their face – such as those which affect faces only like cleft lips and palates or facial paralysis and those that affect faces and bodies like burns, vitiligo and alopecia.

If a condition affects only a person’s body but not their face like breast cancer or arthritis, it is outside our remit. We will however, on occasion, make common cause with charities which campaign for people with body disfigurements and differences.

Photograph courtesy of Changing Faces