[PDHRE logo]
People's Decade of Human Rights Education
PDHRE Home

Hot Topics

Globalization: Human Rights in Trade & Investment

Seminars on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Build a Human Rights Community!

 

Organization Overview & Activities Report 1995-2000

Human Rights Conventions: Summaries

About PDHRE

Current Projects

Sharing Methodology & Learning Materials

Dialogue & Discourse

Get Involved!


Related Links

PASSPORT TO DIGNITY

 

FOREWORD BY SHULAMITH KOENIG

WOMEN LEAD THE HUMAN RIGHTS REVOLUTION

We women must be the leaders!
We women must change the world.
We women must lead meaningful social movements in the world.
We women are working to break through the vicious cycle of humiliation.
We women are developing strategies for social and economic transformation.
We women are using the human rights framework as a powerful tool for action.

Women and men, are born into a world of "privileged" and "underprivileged", of the "powerful" and the "powerless"…-- a system where injustice is justice…--where we exchange equality for survival…-- a patriarchal system. In the prevailing structures of society many are socialized to dominate and exclude others: women/men, minorities/majorities, children/adults, poor/rich. We need to challenge all forms of supremacy, patriarchy, cast, inequality and discrimination, by developing a comprehensive systemic analysis of our conditions and provide solutions for a radical change toward universal human dignity.

Many of us, to save women’s lives, work at symptoms of violations and humiliation to empower women to overcome poverty, abuse, violence, and inequality…--which we must do! However, to work with symptoms and create sympathy does not produce fundamental change. It is imperative that we start looking at the causes and structures in order to create social and economic transformation. The Human Rights framework provides us with the tools we need for analysis and transformation. In order to promote the development –per Nelson Mandela- of a new political culture based on human rights, we have to examine human rights in relation to the patriarchal system in which we are all in compliance. Together, we need to "discover": how the universal oppression of patriarchy works as the system, at the core of all human rights violations, how it gives rise to and is interconnected with other forms of discrimination…--patriarchy as the system that triggers forms of supremacy, hierarchy and exploitation. We need to transform and transcend the patriarchal system into a human rights way of life for all…-- where women, men, youth and children know, claim and realize their human rights. We need to imagine a new world that moves power to human rights!

As Shulamith Foirstein, the early American Feminist, made very clear, it is within the patriarchal family that we all grow to be "racists", since this is a system that teaches us to accept as "human" and natural" differences between people. Difference is regarded as a liability, not a joy…--a given that predetermines one’s life and place in society.

In order to combat sexism, we must develop a strategy to reveal and confront the patriarchal core. We must map out the effects of patriarchy so that everyone takes on some responsibility for oppressive behaviors. Our task is to change the structures that dominate global relations, states, and communities, within the family and among individuals. We need to identify mechanisms and specificities of oppressive systems and the structures that work within them and to search for a process and tools that will dismantle the existing structures. We must acknowledge that discrimination and inequality are experienced and interconnected across a wide range of differences: age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, nationality, disability and other categories of identity. We must realize that oppression also occurs in a variety of settings: family, schools, communities, cities and countries. We want to identify human rights violations towards and within marginalized and oppressed groups and communities in order to craft effective learning about human rights in the community as relevant to people’s struggles for justice.

Human rights is a political ideology that provides us with a framework of norms and standards encoded in the most thoughtful ways, where we women, can live in community in dignity. The comprehensive body of international human rights law, a product of humanity’s struggles for dignity and justice in the core of transformative ideology, and a set of standards by which the system?

Passport to Dignity is a tool which citizens can thorough prepare to take part in the assessment of their national laws. It is a vehicle for human rights education, the primary requisite for the realization of the standards of justice and equality embodied in CEDAW, BPFA and all human rights treaties.

Therefore human rights education, is an imperative tool for social and economic change, whereby men and women learn to work together against injustice, by understanding that all injustices are human rights violations and that the attainment of justice is the building of a human rights culture. When every woman becomes a human rights educator, we can eradicate human rights violations imposed on us because we are women and participate as equals in the political arena as leaders in the social justice movement.

We need to know that human rights draws on the hopes and creativity of humanity from all religions and cultures, transcending the fact that, women, half of humanity have been "forgotten". The framework brings forth, the commonality of all human beings, regardless of religion, cultures and nationality encodes the sanctity of life for all. The notion of human rights embraces all women, men, youth and children…-- attending to civil, cultural, economic, political, social and environmental justice…--viewing fundamental needs to food, housing, education, healthcare and work at livable wages are essential human rights of all!

To know human rights is to know that they are about equality and lack of discrimination.

To know human rights is to know that they are a powerful tool for action.

To know human rights is to know that a over the past 50 years a miracle has happened at the United Nations where abusive governments-in spite of themselves-have signed and committed to comply with the human rights standards.

To know human rights is to know that no one human right can violate another and that all conflicts must be solved the human rights way.

We need to work continuously towards the fulfillment of human rights for all women, and never forgetting to struggle for the human rights of all people. It is the assurance of the human rights of the other that assures the fulfillment of our own. Let us be clear that our goal is the holistic realization of all human rights, that the only rights are "human" rights, and that human rights are universal and integral to all other rights.

Through the pages of Passport to Dignity, the concepts are moved from abstract, legal principles, to lived human experience. On our actual studies of particular communities and individual lives, human rights comes alive as they did when the holistic framework human rights enabled women in a Senegalese village to ask their husbands for land, saying" Land is a human rights!" And got it! And more: the little girl that was named by her parents: "SenSen" –human rights- is the first girl in the village that did not go through Female Gentile Cutting.

We must know human rights, own them and claim them! To forge life in Dignity and Peace for all future generations. Lets join to lead the human rights revolution and make this a better world for all! It is our responsibility…--our destiny.


Back to Table of Contents


Copies of Passport To Dignity are available in September. For the cost $35 plus shipping costs.

Please send your order to pdhre@igc.org

 


For more information, please contact PDHRE:
The People's Movement for Human Rights Education, 526 West 111th Street, New York, NY 10025
tel: 212.749-3156; fax: 212.666-6325; e-mail: pdhre@igc.org