Universal Human Rights Day 2021

Universal Human Rights Month 2021

- By JJ

What is Universal Human Rights Month?
December is the internationally-recognized month for Human Rights. It was created to honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights put forth in 1948, which states the basic rights and fundamental freedoms all human beings are entitled to. These rights include, but are not limited to, freedom from discrimination, the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, the right to equality, freedom of thought and religion, and the freedom of opinion and expression. 
 
How can we celebrate?
Each year, the UN chooses a different theme, based on an article from the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The theme for 2021 is “Equality: Reducing Inequalities, Advancing Human Rights,” based on Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The focus this year is on addressing the deep-rooted forms of discrimination, especially those that target vulnerable groups like women and girls, indigenous people, people of color/minority ethnic groups in a nation, those with disabilities, and (you guessed it) the LGBTQ+ community. 
 
 If you want to celebrate this month, here are some ways to do it, according to the UN, activist groups, and other experts:

  1. Read (or re-read) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This month was founded on this declaration, so it’s good to know, especially if you plan on talking about it with others. 
  2. Take some time to reflect. This month is about equality, so take a look around your local, state, national, and international community. Is everyone being treated equally? Unless you’re living in Utopia, chances are the answer isn’t a resounding yes. Take some time to identify some vulnerable groups. It could be the LGBTQ+ group you’re part of, the disabled community you aren’t a part of, or the indigenous group being overlooked and taken advantage of. How can you step up to help them, and encourage others to do the same? 
  3. Research. Before you fall into the Western (White) Savior Complex of “here’s a group that needs help and only I know how to help”… you should try reaching out to said group and researching. Please don’t approach the group and say, “tell me all about the group and your strategy and how your cause affects me,” if that information is already online or readily available. Trust me, that group has more important things to do than repeat the same information over and over again. Try to look into the group/cause/movement before reaching out. How is that group asking others for help? Most likely, there are already activists in the community creating petitions, organizing protests, spreading information, etc. It’s especially important to remember that, if you aren’t a part of the group then you’re a guest. So be a good guest, and introduce yourself, offer to help in whatever way is needed, and try to not take over the event as your own. 
  4. Volunteer. Once you’ve researched and reached out, it’s time to help out. See how you can help and try to make December the month when you step forward and volunteer. It can be something small, like signing and sharing petitions. It could be going to protests and exercising your right to peacefully assemble. It can be getting into Twitter wars over someone spreading misinformation. Find something that works for you (because doing something small is better than doing nothing at all) and go for it. 
  5. Educate yourself more. Add a few books on human rights to your monthly reading list, and then suggest those books to your friends. Education is key in fighting for equality, so try to arm yourself with knowledge (before the inevitable holiday fight with conservative relatives, right? Or is that just me?). Read up on the UN’s goals for December, look into new activist groups around the world or around the corner, and maybe look for groups to connect with in order to learn more about equality struggles around the world. More importantly, once you’ve filled your brain with knowledge on human rights, try to spread that knowledge to others. Talk to friends, family members, coworkers, the person next to you on the subway (maybe at your own discretion for the last one), etc. about what you’ve read. It will take a movement to create change, and that movement needs as many people as we can get. 
  6. Promote human rights on social media. That’s right. This is your month to tweet and retweet like crazy. Popular hashtags include #HumanRights, #NationalHumanRights, and #StandUp4HumanRights. Follow these posts, and add some of your own. Remember to share the mic with others, especially those in the vulnerable communities you’re trying to help this month.
  7. Don’t stop after December ends. With all your activist energy flowing, don’t stop as soon as December ends. In order for our world to gain equality for all, it will take all of us fighting all year round. Even if you go all out in December, try to keep one habit after the month is over. Maybe continue volunteering once a month, or promise to sign and circulate petitions when you can. Small, steady steps will create the change we need. 

Happy National Human Rights Month!
 
 

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