15th January 2024

"Changemakers" Launch Creates Hope in Dark Times

  • Human rights education

The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 2023 coincided during a very dark time for human rights. Many people around the globe are facing enormous challenges such as conflicts, losing their lives, losing their loved ones, climate change, gender discrimination and xenophobia.

Despite these challenges, days earlier, Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights delivered a speech, saying, “Human rights have not failed. … The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was crafted with lessons drawn from two global wars, the Holocaust, atomic destruction, profound economic devastation, and generations of colonial exploitation, oppression, injustice and bloodshed. It was conceived as a roadmap to a more stable, more just world. Human rights are inherent to every human being.”

As part of the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), SGI organized the launch event for the multimedia educational tool titled “Changemakers: Stories of Young Human Rights Educators” as a side event of Human Rights 75 (HR75) held on 11 December at Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland along with Amnesty International (AI) and the UN Office for Human Rights (OHCHR). Produced in partnership with AI and the OHCHR at the UN in Geneva, the tool builds on the previous collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in producing the film “A Path to Dignity.” The project is now available on the Human Rights Education: Open Web Resource, which is available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

Young human rights educators featured in "Changemakers" gathered for the HR75 event in Geneva.

It features the stories of seven young human rights educators: Irfaan Mangera from South Africa, about racism and racial discrimination; Soufiane Hennani from Morocco, about gender equality and sexual orientation; Aizat Ruslanova from Kyrgyzstan, about women’s rights; Aiki Matsukura from Japan, about sexual exploitation of children; Andrés Allán Sánchez Osorio from Panama, about rights of children and youth in a situation of vulnerability; Maselina Iuta from Samoa, about human rights of people with disabilities; and Dejana Dexi Stošić from Serbia, about gender equality and gender-based violence. At HR75 and its side events, these young human rights educators also participated in person in Geneva and discussed the importance of human rights education for, with and by youth.

On 12 December, SGI, AI and the OHCHR organized an event for the general public at Auditorium Arditi in Geneva, consisting of the screening of the multimedia educational tool, followed by a conversation with the seven young human rights educators. Flore Ghetti of SGI, one of the young members of the Youth Advisory Board for the project, moderated. Around 50 people attended the event, which was held in English with French and sign language interpretations.

Elisa Gazzotti of SGI speaking at an event organized by CoNGO.

In addition, on 15 December, SGI co-sponsored an event organized by the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO). Elisa Gazzotti of SGI was invited to speak about human rights education, human rights and civil society. On this occasion, she also introduced the newly launched multimedia educational tool and concluded with the following words of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda (1928-2023) from his 2018 Peace Proposal: “The real significance of human rights education and training programs lies far beyond acquiring specific knowledge or a certain set of skills—it lies in reviving our desire to perceive the common humanity in those who are different from us.”