Tomorrow is International Human Rights Day, commemorating the day that UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. To give some context, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first global expression of rights that all human beings are inherently entitled to – in other words, an extremely important step in the human rights movement.
This year, the day is dedicated to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50thanniversary of the two major human rights covenants adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1966. The theme for 2015 is ‘Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.’, focusing on such rights and freedoms as freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. You can learn more about the day and what it represents here.
International Human Rights Day provides us with an opportunity to take time out of our lives to think about the rights that we believe every human should have, who lacks them, and what actions we can take to stand up for them.
So today, we challenge you to really think about that: What do you care about enough to stand up for, and how will you go about it?
If you’re looking for some ideas to get started, here are a few campaigns we support:
Eliminate Gender Based Violence
An estimated 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. And that’s a conservative estimate – as you might imagine, a large number of cases go unreported.
Not enough people are aware of these shocking statistics, and that’s the first problem. That’s why from November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, through tomorrow, UN Women has been running a campaign to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls all over the world. The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign is encouraging you to “Orange the World” by sharing photos, messages, and videos to raise awareness about the problem. If you want to join the campaign, check out their Facebook and Twitter feeds and learn how you can spread awareness yourself.
Stand up for LGBT Rights
In more than half of the country, the LGBT community can be denied employment just because of their suspected sexual preferences – it’s legal in 31 American states. And this is only the beginning of the appalling statistics surrounding this issue – learn more about LGBT discrimination here.
If you want to help spread awareness of the issues surrounding LGBT rights, check out the UN’s Free & Equal Campaign, a global public education campaign for LGBT equality. The primary purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and promote greater respect for the rights of LGBT and intersex people everywhere.
Join the Movement for Gender Equality
Gender inequality remains a huge issue, across all sectors. To start, women in most countries earn on average only 60 to 75 per cent of men’s wages, and girls all over the world continue to be majorly excluded from education systems. And, once again, this is just the beginning – you can learn more here.
One of our favorite initiatives around gender equality is the He for She campaign. He for She brings men and women together to support one another, for the benefit of both genders. They’re building a movement that creates substantive impact at the policy level, and they’re working to get the masses involved. You can commit to taking action against gender discrimination and violence in order to build a more just and equal world here, or take it a step further with help from their action kit.
Support Syrian Refugees
Right now in Syria, 13.5 million people need humanitarian assistance. 4.3 million Syrians are refugees, and 6.6 million are displaced within Syria – half of which are children. These people – all of them – need our help. Why now? Winter is coming, and refugees who are currently living in settlements have fewer resources than they’ve ever had. And this means that they’re more vulnerable to trafficking and other dangerous forms of escape.
If you want to provide support in this critical moment, start with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which is providing basic and necessary humanitarian aid to Syrians in need. This aid takes the form of cash for medicine and food, supplies for heating, winter clothing, and more. Every donation makes a difference, and UNHCR explains exactly how each dollar amount will impact the individuals and families who need it most.
On the most basic level, just talking about human rights violations on your own digital platforms (and in real life!) is so important. Think about the issues that matter to you, do some research, and spread the word.
What are you doing to stand up for human rights today (and beyond!)? Share with us – here’s how: