December 10th is International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate and advocate for the dignity, freedom, and basic human rights of all people around the world. Passionate people everywhere are standing with the United Nations to support human rights and take collective action for a brighter future.
Around the world, including here in the U.S., we witness the basic rights of people being stripped away. Some of these rights are as severe as we've seen in history, like freedom from slavery and torture, and the right to free speech. Others are ones we find ourselves fighting for every day in our communities, like freedom from discrimination and the right to a fair trial.
While it might not be obvious, each of us has a surprising and significant influence on the lives of others... on people we don't even know. Once we step out of our bubbles of work stress and worries to strive for something greater, we - each and every one of us - hold incredible power for positive change.
Here are 6 simple ways you can stand up to support and protect human rights in your daily life and begin to empower people around you and around the world. Every action, no matter how small, has the potential to make a difference.
1. Speak up for what you care about
Set aside time to finally give that cause that keeps nagging at your heart and reappearing in your life the attention it deserves. We all have something that we care deeply about, whether because of an experience we underwent, an encounter we've witnessed, or a story spoken by someone close to us. Advocacy has a huge impact in communities everywhere.
One brave voice is enough to open up a channel for others to share their experiences and support human rights. If you feel inspired to write, sign up for Amnesty International's Write for Rights this December to join their global letter-writing campaign and the world’s biggest human rights event. Your words have power! The more awareness created around an issue, the more momentum there is for change to protect human rights.
2. Volunteer or donate to a global organization
Oxfam International and UNICEF are two amazing nonprofits that support human rights around the world. With outreach programs in more than 90 countries, Oxfam helps empower communities to escape poverty and find resilience from natural disaster. We love how local changemakers and activists work directly with Oxfam to fight systematic injustice and support human rights for all.
UNICEF similarly works to protect human rights, but with a focus on children. Their mission is to ensure kids have safe access to clean water, education, healthcare, and play (the right to creative expression!) in almost 200 countries. Check out Charity Navigator to find more amazing nonprofits and their ratings.
3. Choose fair trade & ethically made gifts
Collectively, we have incredible power, and one way to wield that power is in the marketplace. You can positively impact so many lives simply by how you shop for gifts this holiday and throughout the year. Fair trade and ethical products follow strict guidelines for giving workers and artisans living wages, safe working conditions, dignified employment, and environmental respect to support human rights.
As a social enterprise, we believe in the power of fair trade and an ethical marketplace to change lives for the better. We've seen how this movement can transform lives. Every ethical purchase can mean a farming family is able to eat their next meal, a child can receive an education, a garment worker can afford clothing, and an artisan can support her family. Choose fair trade and ethically made gifts for birthdays, weddings, Mother's and Father's Day... and everything in between!
4. Listen to others' stories
There's incredible power in listening to someone's story, especially one that is vastly different from yours. With 7 billion people on one shared planet, the world is full of diverse cultures, traditions, and ways of living that are interesting to learn about.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was the first document to state our shared rights. One important way we can empower survivors and people facing injustices is by honoring and respecting their stories. Working beside women refugees in our studio, we've had the pleasure to be a part of their stories.
5. Stay connected with social movements
A wonderful way to feel connected to social movements in the U.S. and around the world is by engaging on Instagram and Twitter. Prominent activists and human rights organizations are happy to share the ways they are making a difference, and usually offer campaigns you can get involved with.
We love Amnesty International USA's compelling Instagram content and mix of human rights issues. If you care about education and girls' rights, Malala Fund on Instagram posts regular updates and let's you connect with the impact you are helping make. And Human Rights Watch is the one to follow for keeping updated on human rights issues everywhere.
6. Stand up against discrimination
Discrimination has a way of creeping up in places we never imagined encountering it. Yet it's there, and the most important thing each of us can do is say something - don't let it slip by. And when you see someone else stand up, stand with them! When we have each other as support, we are more empowered against injustices in the workplace or in a classroom.
There are more people on this earth who help and uplift others than tear people down with words or hate. Acting together, we're powerful enough to pave a new path to equality and fairness.
This is only a start, barely scratching the surface of so amazing efforts to protect and support human rights you can get involved in. Let us know any ways to make a difference and protect human rights that we may have missed in the comments below!
“TO DENY PEOPLE THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS IS TO CHALLENGE THEIR VERY HUMANITY.” – NELSON MANDELA
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