By Karen Dickinson
Today is Human Rights Day, which commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year Human Rights Day is calling for all of us to stand up for some else’s rights, as well as our own. There is great concern about the way the world is heading and basic human rights are being ignored and violated in all parts of the globe; humane values are under attack. The United Nations says:
‘It starts with each of us. Step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous peoples, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence.’
Today is also the last of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, the theme of which has been ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All’. Education is a fundamental human right and is vital for human, social and economic development, and is key in promoting individual and collective wellbeing. However, an estimated 246 million children worldwide experience violence in and around school every year, making it hard for them to access this basic human right. The World Education Blog says:
‘School-related gender-based violence shares the same root causes as the pervasive gender-based violence that remains a barrier to gender equality in all societies. These include systematic inequalities and unequal power dynamics, as well as stereotypes and restrictive attitudes and expectations of how boys and girls behave.’
Education promotes individual empowerment and is crucial for development and changing entrenched attitudes. Educating young people about healthy relationships helps to combat gender-based violence, but SRE (Sex and Relationships Education) is not compulsory in the UK. A survey by the UK Youth Parliament found that 40% of young people said their SRE was either poor or very poor, and 43% hadn’t received any at all. However, steps are being taken to make a change, such as #SREnow, which is a combined campaign by the Everyday Sexism Project and End Violence Against Women Coalition to make SRE compulsory for every young person and offer comprehensive information on topics that young people are faced with every day such as consent, LGBT rights, gender stereotypes and online pornography.
Stand up for every young person’s right to an education that will equip them with the support and information they need to develop and enjoy healthy relationships throughout their whole lives. Sign the #SREnow petition or tweet Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening and make your voice heard.