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Today, Honor Human Rights Defenders, Celebrate Human Rights Day 2010

By Opportunity International

This year, the theme for Human Rights Day, on Friday, Dec. 10, is recognizing and acclaiming human rights defenders who act to end discrimination, often at great personal risk to themselves and their families.

According to the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, “the day is also intended to inspire a new generation of defenders to speak up and take action to end discrimination in all of its forms whenever and wherever it is manifested.” So read the stories of human rights defenders who took a stand for justice at ohchr.org and be inspired to stand up to stop oppression and injustice occurring around the world.

Geneva Event to Honor Human Rights Day

This morning, Navi Pillay, the UN  High Commissioner for Human Rights, held a special event in Geneva, Switzerland attended by delegates from the diplomatic and UN community, the media and members of the public. Guests gathered to hear the High Commissioner speak, to listen to the personal stories of human rights defenders and UN experts from different regions–including Gaza, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia–and to participate in the forum.

To watch archived video of this morning’s Geneva event, click here.

Economic Empowerment is Human Rights

In our work at Opportunity, we’ve found that empowering people to improve their economic futures can increase social stability and reduce oppression overall. In particular, we’ve found that investing in women living in poverty has long-term societal effects. Children are better fed, girls go to school, and the women reinvest their income into their communities, contributing to greater social stability overall and even, as one study found, less domestic violence. Research in Kerala, India, reported on mediaglobal.org, showed that when women had greater control over their financial assets, it reduced their risk of domestic violence. According to the study, 49% of women in Kerala with no property reported physical violence compared to only 7% of women who did own property. This is merely further proof that empowering people in the developing world is a sustainable, multi-generational, solution to the oppression of global poverty.

Remember, as stated on ohchr.org: “The story does not end after December 10, 2010.  The focus on the work of human rights defenders will continue through all of 2011.” How will you honor human rights defenders, not just on this day, but in the future?

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