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People's Decade of Human Rights Education

Organization Overview
& Activities Report: 1995-2000

Report From the Director

Activities Report:

Major Programs

New Initiatives


Board & Staff


Global Human Rights Education Campaign On Women's Human Rights & Gender Equality

Inspired by the affirmation of women's human rights at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, PDHRE decided in the winter of 1993 to initiate a project that would expand and spread a vision of women becoming human rights educators for the communities in which they live. The result was a "Global Human Rights Education Campaign on Women's Human Rights and Gender Equality," which, since its inception, has received generous funding from the governments of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the European Union, and U.S. Foundations.

PDHRE's training of trainers workshops for women in postconflict Cambodia, held in 1993, provided the example for what a global campaign could achieve. There Cambodian women developed their own human rights training manuals based on a blue print, which was developed by PDHRE after extensive interviewing with educators. Workshop participants were deliberately drawn from human rights organizations, other NGOs, and women's associations of political parties, which could provide the basis for them to implement further training. Men from target organizations were also invited to attend certain sessions according to PDHRE's belief that women should involve men in their work to attain women's human rights. Two of the women who participated in the workshop went on to work on the Cambodian Constitution and many went back to their organizations and are doing human rights education in their own communities.

Following the Cambodian experience, PDHRE launched an outreach campaign to women's organizations in 72 countries, encompassing every region of the world, requesting proposals for pilot human rights education projects to promote women's human rights and gender equality, with a focus on women and men working together. Women from 35 countries responded, and 25 organizations were then invited to send representatives to a planning meeting in New York, which included workshops on human rights norms and standards and methodologies for human rights education. In 1993, a unanimous call for human rights education and gender equality was issued by the participants and the "Global Human Rights Education Campaign on Women's Human Rights and Gender Equality" was launched.

Each of the 25 participants at the New York meeting undertook to develop a two-year pilot project in her country. PDHRE assisted directly and indirectly in fund-raising for these national pilot projects. And, for over two years, the staff of PDHRE facilitated the pilot projects, assisting campaign participants in developing training of trainers workshops, manuals for human rights learning, and video training materials. PDHRE played a crucial role in establishing and maintaining a communication network between the 25 groups to ensure shared experiences. PDHRE's Board and international advisers were constantly made available for consultations, site visits were made, and interim meetings held.

An important and integral component of each pilot project was having participants develop their own manuals as part of their learning and training process, which resulted in 11 training manuals documenting the methodologies used by women in their local campaigns and their resultant experiences. Nine of these have been reproduced for distribution and sale worldwide (see Publications). Other participants chose to produce videos - eight videos (produced pro bono) on human rights education for women resulted - or publish special newsletters.

These two years of pilot projects segued perfectly into PDHRE's preparations and participation in the Fourth World Conference on Women and NGO Forum in Beijing in 1995. It is important to stress that PDHRE was at every preparatory meeting, and numerous nongovernmental as well as inter governmental meetings held prior to the Beijing Conference. PDHRE distributed human rights education materials, lobbied for human rights education language, and held workshops to explain the fundamental importance of human rights education and the Decade for Human Rights Education to women's human rights.

The campaign culminated in a nine-day Institute- a series of training workshops and lectures- on human rights education at the NGO Forum in Beijing. The directors of the 22 completed pilot projects in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Peru, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Cambodia, the Philippines, Croatia, Serbia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Palestine, and the United States took part in conducting the Institute. Six hundred women participated fully in the workshops; several thousand visited the Institute to review training of trainers materials and speak briefly with PDHRE representatives. The training manuals developed as women carried out their pilot projects-translated into Spanish and Arabic - were used in the workshops and disseminated to all who visited the Institute. In addition, 72 women representing Chinese women's organizations attended a closed session specifically geared to promoting women's human rights in China. With the success of Phase I of the "Global Human Rights Education Campaign on Women's Human Rights and Gender Equality," a call by women in Beijing for the development of a global human rights education project led to the expansion of PDHRE's program to include more countries and a wider audience.

Regional Latin American Campaign and Other Success Stories

Many of the 22 pilot projects of Phase I of the campaign have blossomed into national and regional campaigns. One of the greatest successes has been the emergence of a regional project in Latin America developed by a consortium of women active in the PDHRE campaign from Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. Here, networking begun by PDHRE has developed into a cohesive movement. The consortium, headed by Susana Chiarotti of the Instituto de Genero, Derecho, y Desarrollo in Argentina, has now secured independent funding from the European Union, with the help of PDHRE, to launch a regional Latin American campaign focused on raising women's awareness of human rights and economic concerns. PDHRE has now been contracted to continue its servicing and development of this regional campaign.

In many other cases, women who were trained by, and conducted pilot projects with, PDHRE have now established ongoing autonomous projects. Among the countries where PDHRE has been instrumental, through this program or other efforts, in establishing such ongoing activities as either independent initiatives or as an integral part of larger projects, are: Sri Lanka, Cambodia, India, Fiji, Japan, Hungary, Serbia, the United States, and Zambia, to mention only a few.

With funds raised by PDHRE for Phase II of the international campaign, projects are also ongoing in Croatia, Palestine, Tanzania, and the Philippines. A selection of the results of PDHRE's servicing and support of women's organizations involved in its "Global Human Rights Education Campaign on Women's Human Rights and Gender Equality" over the last two years is highlighted below.


A variety of small grants have been made to three organizations. One went to the Asian Women Human Rights Council towards producing and making video copies of a film on the "Violence of Development Against Women," which contains excellent footage of testimonies on development crimes against women well suited to use in human rights education programs. Production of the film "Hour of the Fox, " was sponsored by the Ford Foundation and PDHRE and, thanks primarily to PDHRE, copies were made for distribution among the grassroots organizations of Asia. PDHRE made such distribution possible. A grant was also made to the Women's Desk at Participatory Research, Organization of Communities, and Education Towards Struggle for Self- Reliance (PROCESS) for a training module on housing as a human right, which resulted in the manual "Learning, Reflecting, and Acting for a Human Rights Future: A Training Manual for the Education of the Human Right to Housing," and an integrated arts project for trainers-survivors of abuse to develop curriculum for children, adolescents, adults, and care givers. A small grant was also given to a Muslim women's organization for monthly human rights education courses for rural women and to develop a Muslim women's human rights education network in Southeast Asia.


For the past two years, PDHRE has given grants to the Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA) for media education projects to mobilize a social justice movement in Tanzania. TAMWA initiated a national educational campaign on human rights education, reaching 25 regions through radio programming, workshops, training of trainers, and the distribution and development of community based materials. A series of human rights education .'Days of Action" in which women, men, children, youth gave testimony on the situation of women in Tanzania were held. Mock tribunals were judged by distinguished guests, including the former prime minister of Tanzania and three lawyers from the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association. These tribunals, held in the national parliament building, were broadcast live over Radio Tanzania. TAMWA has built up its own network of seven NGOs and as a result has conducted 100 human rights education workshops, reaching all regions of the country. The group also visits secondary schools and colleges to speak about human rights education and engages in frequent lobbying of national government bodies. TAMWA utilized their mass media expertise to advance awareness of women's human rights and human rights education through community broadcasts and their Tanzanian women's magazine Sauti Ya Siti , which covers human rights education as it related to hunger, electoral campaigns, legal literacy, comfort women, radio, research, and globalization of the economy.


Women's Affairs Technical Committee (WATC) received grants for women's mobilizing and organizing around human rights issues in Palestine during the crucial period of state-building. WATC arranged meetings with human rights and women's organizations, political parties, and the Palestinian deputy minister of the interior on human rights education. They conducted a media campaign and public protests (in which hundreds of women participated in Gaza city, Hebron city, and Ramallah) on the right to freedom of mobility that was being violated by a Ministry of Interior decision requiring women to get permission from a "guardian" to apply for Palestinian passports. Due in part to the WATC's lobbying for equal citizenship rights, the Ministry of the Interior retracted this requirement in January 1995. Other accomplishments for which the WATC take partial credit are: women no longer need a male companion to take driving lessons, women can now open bank accounts in their children's names and obtain passports for them without a male relative; the age of marriage was raised; women may maintain their maiden names; and more women have achieved decision-making positions, such as in Palestinian ministries. In their advocacy work for human rights education and women's right to education, members of the WATC met with the Ministry of Education to discuss gender sensitization and pushed for a secondary school to be built in a village in the Ramallah District to decrease the female dropout rate. The WATC has been designated a center for consultation on women's policy and gender issues and has established a self learning facility at their offices to make human rights education materials, manuals, and videos available to the public. In addition, the WATC publishes a biweekly newspaper and runs a daily radio program promoting women's rights.


Grants were made to a women's human rights group, B.a.B.e. (Be Active, Be Emancipated), located in Zagreb to arrange and conduct human rights education workshops both in Croatia, Macedonia, Kosova, Russia, and Ukraine on women's human rights and gender equality, and to develop human rights education materials and a training video. Moneys also went towards supporting various other B.a.B.e initiatives in 1996 such as: 1) monitoring changes in Croatian legal legislation and drafting and distributing amendments on laws concerning women's human rights; and 2) Legalline, a telephone service providing free legal advice to women on a wide range of issues, such as domestic abuse, family law, and labor law, and analyzing calls to identify trends and a possible course of intervention with the legal system.


A small grant was received by Nagorik Uddyog (Citizen's Initiative), an NGO dedicated to the development of an informed and concerned electorate, stressing in particular awareness building regarding women's human rights, in particular the right to democratic participation. The initiative works to promote women's effective participation in the electoral process and generate concern for women's human rights so as to include it in electoral agenda. Part of their project involved developing "Empowering Women at the Grassroots: A Manual for Women's Human Rights Education, " which was prepared by Meghna Guhathakurta and Khadija Lina of the Nagorik Uddyog Citizen's Initiative and outlines women's socio-economic problems in Bangladesh, how law and religion discriminate against women, women's rights in the constitution and CEDAW, and women's rights in political and public life. This manual is now being expanded to include discussions of economic and social rights.

South Africa

PDHRE gave a grant to momelikusasa (.'Skills for the Future") Community Law Centre for a project in which rural women decided to entered into an unprecedented dialogue with their village chiefs. They spent many months discussing equality and the imperative of women's participation in the decisions that determine their lives, both in the private and public arenas. In the course of their discussions, the women produced "Women's Rights as Human Rights: A Training Manual," which focuses on community training for women's grassroots communities in the rural Kwazulu Natal province in South Africa. This project produced remarkable results in a short time. Following their own call for women to participate in building a new South Africa, 22 of the women active in the project ran for office in the local government's regional council elections in December, 1995. Impressively, 8 of the 22 are now members of a l5-member regional council. These trainers have since branched out to 14 new rural areas where the manual that evolved out of their pilot project is used to continue this dialogue process and empower other Zulu women and their communities.

Ongoing Work Related TO The UN Decade For Human Rights Education

Since the declaration of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education in 1994, PDHRE has continued to expand upon the Plan of Action for the Decade and has been involved in the writing and lobbying of every single resolution for the Decade, each time creating new linkages to different governments. In fact, governments often request PDHRE to prepare draft resolutions for the Decade, which they then tailor to their own specifications. In the resolutions prepared each year (1995 and 1996) to endorse the decade, PDHRE called for governments to create National Committees consisting of NGOs and government representatives to ensure that the Decade is implemented throughout all sectors of society. In early 1997, the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that 12 countries had created such committees, among them Norway and Japan. The government of Japan then asked PDHRE to assist them in setting up their committee.

PDHRE constantly references the Decade in its activist work at intergovernmental meetings, calling for government commitment to human rights education and the inclusion of such education programs in their implementation programs for such UN World Conferences as those held in Vienna, Beijing, Cairo, Copenhagen, and Istanbul. And, PDHRE is tireless in its efforts to ensure that the UN Third Committee includes human rights and human rights education in the resolutions passed on a wide range of economic and social issues.

Habitat II Campaign

Prior to the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat ll), PDHRE attended a meeting in Berlin cosponsored by Habitat International Coalition (HIC), and the German government to discuss strategies leading up to the conference in Istanbul. In a follow-up meeting with HIC, Youth for Voluntary Action (YUVA), and COHRE it was decided that a campaign to persuade governments to recognize housing as a human right was needed.

PDHRE along with major international organizations working on the Habitat II agenda, spearheaded an advocacy campaign requesting member states to recognize and affirm the human right to adequate housing. Concurrently, PDHRE, with the same partners, launched a grassroots petition campaign - utilizing extensive fax trees and E-mail where possible and relying on phones and intensive follow-up in areas without access to electronic communications. The campaign resulted in 500 organizations from over 70 countries gathering 800,000 signatures in only 5 weeks demanding that members states recognize housing as a human right. As a result, the grassroots campaign ignited and heated up a worldwide dialogue on housing as a human right, resulting in Habitat Agenda declaring the right to adequate housing a human right.

At the Habitat II meeting in Istanbul, PDHRE and its affiliates prepared training materials, and a manual for understanding housing as a human right, and ran three-days of workshop programs linking basic needs and human rights. The manual, "Learning, Reflecting and Acting for a Human Rights Future: A Training Manual for the Education of the Human Right to Housing in Urban Communities," prepared by Lea Espallardo of PDHRE's affiliate, Participatory Research, Organization of Communities, and Education Towards Struggle for Self-Reliance (PROCESS) was based on work with rural Filipinos who had evicted from their land. This initiative continues to date with a second campaign underway in the spring of 1997.

Pedagogy Development For Human Rights Education

With the founding of the People's Decade for Human Rights Education, it was decided that it was not enough to have a "decade" as a strategy without giving serious attention to developing human rights education methodologies and a pedagogy for understanding human rights education as a transformative process. To this end, in 1996, an international consultation on "The Pedagogical Foundations of Human Rights Education" was held in Costa Rica. Organized by PDHRE and the Government of Costa Rica. with funding from the UN Center for Human Rights, the government of Norway, UNDP, and the ILO, the meeting was attended by 35 leading educators, activists, and educational scholars from all regions of the world. There, PDHRE tackled the difficult task of defining human rights education, its content, audience, and purpose. It pointed to the need to define human rights education in a far more encompassing manner, as a possible tool for energizing social and economic transformation throughout societies plagued by growing inequalities and discontent.

The Costa Rica conference built on many earlier international meetings initiated, organized, and conceptualized by PDHRE to discuss and advance human rights education pedagogies. In October 1992, PDHRE organized a meeting of 50 representatives from groups worldwide who had begun or were planning programs in human rights education. This "Conference on Goals and Strategies of Human Rights Education" was hosted by the Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights and funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The meeting centered around the need to fill a "values gap" . In the post-Cold War period and to focus on values-based educational programs appropriate for emerging and reemerging democracies. A second working group meeting on human rights education was held at Yale University in 1993. These earlier meetings formed the basis for Human Rights Education for the 21st Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997)(see Publications).

PDHRE continues to work towards creating viable and effective methodologies and pedagogies for this new discipline. The discourse on human rights education will be continued through E-mail news groups and on our new World Wide Web site, so that interested parties may share and consolidate their thoughts. PDHRE seeks an opportunity to deliberate the issue with professional groups of educators, who are capable of publishing articles that will anchor the debate and develop it in a systematic way.

Independent Commission On Human Rights Education

In June 1995, in preparation for the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, a pioneering group of educators, diplomats, grassroots organizers, scholars and international officials created the Independent Commission on Human Rights Education. The Commission, which is unique in its independence from any government or international organization, acts to: 1) provide conceptual leadership on human rights education, in particular stressing the linkages between human rights education, women, economics and social development, international peace and security; 2) advise and make recommendations to the UN and other intergovernmental bodies on human rights education and on activities during the Decade; 3) develop methodologies, advocacy strategies, constituency-building, studies, and reports on human rights education, to reinforce human rights education efforts already undertaken in some 100 countries worldwide; 4) ensure that human rights education perspectives are reflected in major international events, such as the World Summit on Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on Women; and 5) prepare and disseminate a major report on human rights education as a challenge for the 21st century, to be issued by the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1998. The Commission consists of 30 members, drawn from different regions and representing the major segments of society. The founding members are listed below (organizational designations are for identification only):

Members of the Independent Commission

Jose Ayala Lasso
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Upendra Baxi
Professor of Law, Warwick University, UK

H.E. Richard Butler
Ambassador of Australia to the UN

Charlotte Bunch, Women's Leadership

Eon Chambers
International Labor Organization

Andrew Clapham
Amnesty International

Richard Pierre Claude
University of Maryland

Ivanka Corti
former Chairperson, CEDAW

Clarence Dias
Center for International Law in Development

Dorota Gierycz
UN Division for the Advancement of Women

H.E. Tanjura Hauraka
Former Ambassador of Namibia to the UN

Shulamith Koenig
People's Decade of Human Rights Education

Stephen Lewis
Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, former Canadian Ambassador to the UN

H.E. Walter Lichem
Ambassador of Austria to Canada

Stephen Marks
Columbia University

Betty Reardon
Teachers College, Columbia University

Loretta J. Ross
Center for Human Rights Education

Magda J. Seydegart
South House Exchange, Canada

Elsa Stamatopoulou-Robbins
UN Center for Human Rights

H.E. Danilo Turk
Ambassador of Slovenia to the UN

World Report On Human Rights Education

In conjunction with the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, members of the Independent Commission have undertaken the responsibility for an in-depth worldwide survey of the state of human rights education at the grassroots level. This will culminate in a Report which will be published on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The report is intended to make a strong argument for the importance of human rights education at the grassroots level, and develop a better understanding of how such education is undertaken, whether or not it goes officially by the name of human rights education. The report will itself be a testimony to policy makers, NGOs, and community leaders on why integrating human rights education into all policy and programs is an exceptional tool for confronting the emerging human rights violations in the world today.

The Independent Commission has solicited narratives or testimonies from around the world, which will be published as part of the Report and, where appropriate on the PDHRE World Wide Web site. PDHRE has engaged many grassroots groups to conduct "Listening and Hearings" in their communities to collect narratives on how human rights and education can be used as an effective means for social transformation. Such narratives describe: 1) individual's experiences of specific struggles; 2) the process by which grassroots communities and solidarity groups mobilize for struggle; 3) how situations are analyzed and strategic choices made; and 4) how, out of action, specific communities educate themselves to develop new awareness within the frame of their cultural identity, and integrate it into further action. Made possible by grants from both the Norwegian and Danish Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Report will assemble information on Human Rights Education and propose strategies to improve education and promote and protect human rights.

Human Rights Education Center

On January 1, 1996, the National Center for Human Rights Education (CHRE) opened its doors. Sponsored by the People's Decade of

"The vision of much of our program comes directly from the shared vision of PDHRE. The Human Rights-USA project in which we are participating is a direct result of PDHRE's advocacy for such a project, and PDHRE brought CHRE together and helped it in receiving major funding from the Ford Foundation."
-Lorretta Ross. Director of CHRE, USA

Human Rights Education, the CHRE trains U.S. and visiting grassroots community activists in human rights history, language, treaties, and standards. PDHRE has provided leadership and technical experience for CHRE staff development, Board development, financial management and accounting, fund-raising, and has also made it possible for CHRE members to participate in international networking and conferences.

The CHRE seeks to build a social movement for human rights by educating U.S. grassroots activists to connect themselves and local struggles to the larger global struggle for human rights. The mission of CHRE is to "bring human rights home" to the American people, and build a human rights culture in the United States. PDHRE sees this as vital given the U.S. stance on economic, social, and cultural rights. In 1996, CHRE educated and trained some 500 activists around the country to become human rights educators.

Workshops & Lectures

PDHRE seizes every opportunity to hold workshops or human rights caucuses at UN events and talk one-on-one with participants to engage them in a dialogue on the indivisibility of human rights and the need to integrate human rights education into government and NGO programs alike. PDHRE has held human rights education workshops for both government and nongovernmental representatives at the all major U.N.- sponsored summits, except Rio, and at the follow-up meetings to each of the World Conferences. In addition, members of PDHRE's Board and the Independent Commission are often called upon to speak about human rights education in the context of such issues as globalization, development, women's rights, health, and the environment to varied groups, from consumer organizations to student groups.

For more information, please contact PDHRE:

The People's Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE) / NY Office
Shulamith Koenig / Executive Director
526 West 111th Street, New York, NY 10025, USA
tel: +1 212.749-3156; fax: +1 212.666-6325
e-mail: pdhre@igc.org