Human rights defenders are people who are making the world a better and fairer place by promoting and protecting human rights. They seek to ensure our shared commitment to freedom, respect, equality and dignity is reflected in our laws, policies and practices. We can all be a defender of human rights!
Who is a human rights defender? When people hear the term ‘human rights defenders’, they often think about social justice activists, community leaders, community lawyers, unionists, public-interest journalists, or staff members at human rights organisations – and they are right, as all of these roles and professions can be human rights defenders, but so can anyone.
History has shown that together we have the power to overcome tyranny, lift each other up out of poverty, defeat exploitation and hold ourselves collectively to higher standards. It requires participation.
We can all play a role in encouraging and pushing for positive change and we all have the right to defend human rights.
For example, we might:
- speak up for a colleague that has been treated unfairly at work,
- protest about the sexism that women everywhere continue to face,
- promote reforms to ensure everyone can access the health care they need,
- help to change outdated attitudes about gender identity and sexual orientation,
- raise awareness about the need to dismantle the systemic racism that still holds back so many people of colour,
- try to ensure there is free, fair and informed public debate about the policies that affect us.