When it comes to respecting and promoting human rights, governments bear the primary responsibility. However, every individual owes it to themselves and their communities to promote human rights. That can seem like a challenging task, but there are many ways you can undertake this mission in both your daily life and as a lifelong goal. Here are ten examples:
Research human rights issues
To promote human rights, you first need to understand the issues. Many people have good intentions, but if they lack accurate information, their efforts can make things worse. Commit to thorough research from credible sources, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and news organizations with good track records. Bear in mind that no source is perfect and even reliable organizations can miss the mark. It’s your responsibility to read widely, listen to people’s stories, and recognize that learning is a continuous process.
Donate to good organizations
Donating money is one of the best ways to promote human rights. Money allows organizations to continue their work whether it’s providing aid to people in crisis, pressuring governments to take action on human rights, or creating programs that empower the disenfranchised. There are millions of NGOs today, but not all use their funds wisely. Before donating, investigate the organization by looking at places like Charity Navigator or GuideStar. All organizations have some problems, but some are worse than others. If you’re wary of large NGOs, look for smaller-scale local organizations and mutual aid funds.
Change your shopping habits
You can promote human rights by considering the human rights impact of your shopping habits. Do the stores and corporations you buy from exploit their workers? Do they pay a fair wage? Where do they source their materials? You most likely won’t be able to shop from exclusively ethical and sustainable businesses because of the financial cost. However, you can choose to eliminate the worst offenders and commit to only buying gifts from ethical places. Also, ethical and sustainable items tend to last longer so you buy less overall.
Connect to human rights movements
It’s much easier to promote human rights within a group. Look for groups doing human rights work in your area or join online communities that connect you to global movements. When people work together, they can raise more awareness and funds for the causes they promote. Good groups will have strong leadership, good accountability systems, and a commitment to listening to the communities they serve.
Vote in every election
If you live in a country with elections, you can promote human rights by voting whenever you can. That includes local elections, school board elections, and more. Pay attention to the candidates running and their platforms. You can also participate in democracy by helping other people vote, including those who face disenfranchisement or who believe voting doesn’t matter.
Put pressure on those responsible for upholding human rights
As we mentioned in the introduction, governments are responsible for protecting human rights. They often fail. You can promote human rights by contacting government officials and urging them to take action on pressing issues. You can contact international entities, as well, if you’re unable to directly contact your government or if they are not responsive.
Peaceful protest is one of the most powerful ways to support human rights. Throughout history, protests have sparked major changes surrounding laws, regime changes, and more. The bigger the protest, the more attention an issue gets. Protests can be dangerous and involve the police, so organizers must have ways to stay in communication with everyone and a plan to leave the area safely.
Support mothers and parents
Women and children are two of the most vulnerable groups in the world. Even in wealthy countries like the United States, there are wide disparities and few resources for mothers and parents in need of help. You can promote and protect their rights by supporting aid organizations, advocating for good maternity and paternity leave, and supporting reproductive rights.
Take action when you see discrimination
A person’s rights are disrespected every time they face discrimination. You can promote human rights in your daily life by doing something when you witness things like racism or sexism. Taking action can mean different things depending on the situation. Commit to finding out what best serves the people you want to help as opposed to trying to “play the hero.” As an example, if you see discrimination in a workplace, try to talk to the person who was the target of the discrimination before taking any action. They might have specific ideas about how you can support them.
Support economic rights
Economic rights are at the root of many other human rights. If someone lives in poverty, they are vulnerable to a host of other inequalities like a lack of access to healthcare, education, housing, and more. A lack of economic rights also fuels violence and human trafficking. If you want to promote human rights, you can’t forget about poverty. Advocate for things like equal pay for equal work, education access, free childcare, clean water and sanitation, and more.