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FACES is proud to be a founding member in the global alliance to promote Face Equality
New global alliance to promote face equality and stamp out disfigurement discrimination
A new organization, Face Equality International, being launched today is a unique alliance of charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which want to see the campaign for ‘face equality’ become a global movement. It will build on the success of the campaign in the UK and 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. He says that disfigurement is a neglected global human rights issue: “Wherever they live in the world, people with disfigurements — whether from cleft lips and palates, birthmarks, burns, acid violence, facial paralysis like Bell’s palsy, skin conditions such as psoriasis and vitiligo or after facial cancer — have to deal with many psychological, social and economic challenges in living confident, successful lives in the 21st century.”
An influential group of founding charities and NGOs — including 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 Organization in the Netherlands, the Smile Foundation in South Africa and Changing Faces in the UK — are committed to creating a world in which people with disfigurements are fully accepted and valued as equal citizens.
Partridge whose face was severely burned in a car accident when he was 18 said:
“All the founding NGOs know from their members that having a facial difference can mean someone is isolated and friendless, facing bullying, ridicule and staring in public, low expectations in school, problems getting work and harassment in the workplace, abuse on social media and stereotyping in the media.
“Much more evidence of these experiences needs to be collected and brought to public attention — as was done by the UK charity Changing Faces in its 2017 survey of 800 adults (www.changingfaces.org.uk/campaigns/dituk). The roots of the stigma of disfigurement lie deep in the unconscious beliefs of global culture about ‘looking perfect’ being a passport to success, about how scars and asymmetry are associated with villainy, and about the power of modern surgery. The stigma can be self-imposed too with low expectations and lack of ambition leading to a resignation that this is how things will always be.”
Face Equality International will challenge such unfairness and discrimination by mobilizing NGOs around the world and sharing the lessons of how to advocate for face equality effectively — such as awareness-raising initiatives with teachers, culture and business people, and ripostes to everyday incidents of facial prejudice in the media.
The alliance will also campaign for people with disfigurements around the world to be properly protected by law from facial discrimination however it is experienced — in workplaces, on social media, in schools or public places.
The founders hope the alliance will attract and mobilize many NGOs and charities to join the campaign for a global culture in which everyone with a facial difference is valued in their societies for the unique contribution that they can make and is treated equally and with high expectations like everyone else.
Lynne Mayfield Retires From FACES
Lynne Mayfield, the former FACES President retires after 28 years with us. She did so much for this organization and we are so sad to see her go. We wish nothing but the best retirement for her. Here are a few parting words from her:
"Everyone who crosses paths with FACES is moved by their experience, whether as a volunteer, a board member, a client, or in my case, as the president for nearly three decades. I never imagined I'd devote my career to this work, but when I think about the ways I've been able to have some small effect on people's lives, I'm humbled by it.
FACES is not a giant organization - far from it! We exist and we thrive thanks to the work of so many people who are moved by the stories of the clients we serve. In 28 years, the world has changed so much, but the need for our work has not. We still live in a nation where children born with facial differences may not have access to adequate medical care, and we live in a nation that chooses to turn its back on those who need help the most.
That's where FACES comes in. Since our founding, we've turned toward those children who need life-changing surgery to repair facial differences that are incredibly rare. We've turned towards families who must receive the joy of their child's birth mixed with fear for their child's long-term health. We've turned towards the children who may look different on the outside, but whose beauty shines so brightly from within."
When others turn away, FACES steps forward with compassion, caring and hope. I hope that my time as president has cemented that instinct in our organization, and I am excited to see FACES continue to grow and serve."