Take Action: Promoting equality and non-discrimination in your community

Earlier in the course you read how Eleanor Roosevelt asserted that “Without concerted citizen action to uphold them [our human rights] close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” We have explored how to speak up for human rights values and actions; now we are going to start thinking about what action you can take to promote equality and non-discrimination in your community. This part of the course will provide you with guidance to help you think of initiatives and activities you can use to make your community more equal.

STEP 1. Identify the issue

Start by identifying issues affecting equality in your community. What is wrong and what needs to change? What human rights are involved? Are any rights being denied? Use your assessment as reference. For example:

  • People aren’t allowed to wear religious accessories in public
  • People living in slums lack access to clean water
  • Transgender students are being forced to wear gendered uniforms and use toilets that are not assigned for the gender they identify with
  • Lack of access to public transport and/or spaces for people with disabilities
  • Police discrimination against young men of a certain skin color
  • Girls dropping out of schools due to lack of school fees while their brothers stay in school

Here are some examples that will help you identify issues affecting your community

  • Watching the news
  • Following cases on social media
  • Reading newspapers and magazines
  • Speaking to members of the community
  • Engaging with a human rights organization

Answer the following questions:

  • WHAT is the issue you identified? What is wrong and what needs to change? If you are not sure use the UDHR as your reference.
  • WHY does this issue occur?
  • WHICH group is affected?

STEP 2. Choose allies in your community

After you have identified the issue you want to address, think of who can help you achieve your goal in your community. These are some of the people who can have power at local and community levels. Can any of them help you revert the discrimination you identified?

  • Members of the community (school/local/nation)
  • School council
  • Teachers, senior teachers and governors
  • Friends and family
  • Local community groups
  • Civil society organizations
  • Local council
  • The police, fire service, doctors, nurses

Answer the questions below:

  • WHO can help address the issue? WHO has the power to implement measures to end discrimination?
  • HOW could you persuade or work with these people to bring about change? Build on the your knowledge and skills about communicating human rights.

STEP 3. Pick your action

Brainstorm actions you could take to promote equality and non discrimination in your community – if you need inspiration, see the list below. Now label each one according to the impact you think it will have (big impact, some impact, little impact) and how easy it would be to take this action (very easy, relatively easy, difficult). Identify the easiest and most impactful actions and make a plan what you need to make it happen and what output you would like to see!

Here are some examples of actions you could take:

Join community meetings
Take the floor when issues that concern equality and discrimination are discussed or bring them into discussion. Adding a human rights perspective to the decision making process is a crucial task.

Teach children and adults
Run a workshop on equality for community members, tutor immigrant children or refugees in your community. Provide support on basic tasks such as filling out forms, taking the public transport or visiting health services.

Organise an event
Organise a photo exhibition, a public debate or a local meet-up to draw attention to inequality issues. Invite members of your local community to attend and engage in a dialogue.

Support your neighbourhood
Support people in your community that live at the edges of society - homeless persons, asylum seekers, refugees, people with little or no income. Visit a local homeless shelter or asylum center and offer your help.

Create a community newsletter
Setup a newsletter offering a human rights perspective on issues that happen in your community.

Support local organizations
Join forces with local charities and civil society organizations to tackle discrimination in your community.

Discussion

Reflect on how you can promote equality and non-discrimination

Together with other learners, you have discussed some of the inequality issues that affect your community. How do you plan to promote non-discrimination and equality in your community?

Inspire one another by sharing your ideas!

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This article is from the free online course:

Defending Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Amnesty International