Shining a Light on Human Rights

Launching today on Human Rights Awareness Day and the first night of Chanukah, we will be shining a light on sustainable development themes, news and challenges over the next eight days.

This year’s UN Human Rights Day is themed: ‘Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights’, promoting the importance of centring human rights as we recover from the pandemic. Encouraging Sustainable Development to end poverty is a central part of this.

Reducing recently increased poverty levels is essential if we are to plug key gaps in the protection of human rights. At Tzedek, our work is centred on increasing the possibility for our partner communities to have their needs and rights met. Many people living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.90 a day), have not had an education, and cannot provide this for their children either. Many do not have access to healthcare for their families and may not live in countries with government welfare schemes in place to fall back on. A large number of our programme participants have been child or bonded labourers, including Mrs Vinnarasi whose story of hope and change you can read here.

Our mission is to reduce extreme poverty in some of the poorest regions of the world, thereby enabling people and entire communities to have more of their rights met in the long-term. While working towards this greater vision, our partners are also promoting the rights of our communities in their work.

In India, we are providing vocational and skills training to women and youth from some of the most marginalised communities. We also provide seed money and run microcredit projects so that they can start their own businesses, working free from inadequate labour conditions and exploitation. While running these projects, many of our partners simultaneously provide educational support to participants’ children, offer counselling to women whose rights to social protection (including the highest attainable levels of mental well-being) have not been met.

In Ghana, our Empowerment for Life programme is strengthening local community groups so that they can drive their own change. One aspect of this programme includes training people in advocacy. Our field facilitators help people understand their rights and how to fight for them. We train community journalists to represent local issues and equip groups with the skills they need to hold their duty bearers to account in protecting their human rights. Already, even in phase 1 of this programme, we have seen Education Groups collaborate with our community journalists to advocate for improvements to be made to school buildings and facilities, which were necessary to ensure the safety of students and staff. Our groups were involved in educating the public ahead of this week’s general election, encouraging peaceful involvement in the democratic process.

Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere is the first of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and this isn’t for nothing – we cannot achieve the full realisation of human rights while poverty exists in the world.

Follow our Shine a Light campaign on Instagram this Chanukah as we highlight key topics and challenges relating to the promotion of human rights and sustainable development.