“Embrace diversity, end discrimination”

Human Rights Day marked the 61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration. The theme for this year was “Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination."

Human Rights Day yesterday marked the 61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The theme for this year, based on the second article of the declaration – under which all human beings were declared born free and equal in dignity and rights – is “Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination”.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a message for the day that “No country is free of discrimination” while the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay citing the many still suffering from gender-based discrimination, said:

“Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of the world’s food, yet earn only 10 per cent of the world’s income and own less than one per cent of the world’s property.”

In the United Kingdom, Liberty released a poll to mark the anniversary which the Director, Shami Chakrabarti, called “a bit of pre-Christmas cheer” after it showed that the British public remain committed to human rights, with 96 per cent responding that they believe it is important that there is a law that protects rights and freedoms in Britain.

For an inspiring story about the determination of the most powerless to fight for the rights enshrined for them over sixty years ago, we should look to this years winners of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, Magodonga Mahlangu and Jennifer Williams. The founders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) are leading non-violent struggle against Mugabe’s regime, enduring brutal repression and repeated arrests. Mahlangu said, “ZANU-PF is… making everyone dependent on assistance. People spend 9, 10 or 11 hours a day just fighting for survival, gathering wood and food”, yet in spite of this, “tens of thousands of women get up, sometimes at 3am, to fit in activism.”

What are we doing this Human Rights Day to protect rights worldwide?

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