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DE&I Committee: International Human Rights Day

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International Human Rights Day is observed yearly on December 10th, at which time, we recognize the day that the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to the UN website, the purpose of the Declaration was to, “set out a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms to which all of us are entitled. It guarantees the rights of every individual everywhere, without distinction based on nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, religion, language, or any other status.” (OHCHR | Human Rights Day). Today, we are still fighting for these rights all over the world.

As a NAWIC member, I would be remiss if I did not bring attention to a few of the courageous women who assisted in shaping this document.

Hansa Mehta was an advocate for womens’ rights in India. She is also credited with changing the phrase, “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal.”

Begum Shaista Ikramullah of Pakistan advocated for Article 16 in the Declaration which provides for equal rights in marriage, specifically to battle both child and forced marriage.

Bodil Begtrup of Denmark suggested that this document should specifically recognize the rights of minorities to education. Unfortunately, in 1946, this idea was considered too ‘controversial’ in nature. Evdokia Uralova of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic fought for equal pay for women. (Human Rights Day - Women who shaped the Universal Declaration | United Nations)

In 1995, at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, Hillary Clinton said to a rousing crowd, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights”( Hillary Clinton "Women's Rights are Human Rights" Speech at 1995 Women's Conference Beijing Transcript - Rev). I have this speech hung in my home because the sentiment of this conference, the memory of those who have come before her and the women today who fight for the same things as were fought for in the 1940s, must never be forgotten.

We must remain steadfast in our mission; we must pick each other up and celebrate our wins. We must teach our children that dignity, respect, and inclusion are the backbone of the future. We must continue to recognize that what we do and what we say matter. As we still climb our way out of a devastating pandemic that has affected our entire world, inequality is more prevalent than ever. We need to continue to fight and bring broader awareness to true equality of all humans, and recognize that we have the power to change the world around us. If you want to learn more or get involved, please visit: Take Action: Human Rights Day | Stand up for human rights (


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