Defending Children's Rights/Child Soldiers
The war in Mozambique (1985–1992) left 250,000 children displaced and 200,000 orphaned, while tens of thousands more were forcibly recruited and put into combat. It was rare that government forces and guerrillas engaged- combat was waged almost exclusively against unarmed civilians. In the midst of the brutality Abubacar Sultan traveled the country across roadless lands and on tiny planes to rescue the children of war- kids, six to thirteen years old, who had been forced to witness and, in some cases, to commit atrocities against family members and neighbors. Sultan trained over five hundred people in community-based therapies and his project reunited over 4,000 children with their families. Sultan put his life at grave risk on a daily basis. Today he continues his work with children, concentrating on community education and children’s rights through his initiative Wona Sanana.
Giving Voice to the Voiceless
In 2000, Freedom House, an organization based in Washington, D.C., described the dire state of repression in Sudan, so perilous for human rights that it was the only place in the world where we were asked not to reveal the identity of the defender: “The Sudanese government and its agents are bombing, burning, and raiding southern villages, enslaving thousands of women and children, kidnapping and forcibly converting Christian boys, by sending them to the front as cannon fodder, annihilating entire villages or relocating them into concentration camps called ‘peace villages,’ while preventing food from reaching starving villages. Individual Christians, including clergy, continue to be imprisoned, flogged, tortured, assassinated, and even crucified for their faith.”
Speaking Truth to Genocide
Ethel Kennedy was born into a large Catholic family in Chicago in 1928. A bright and active young woman, Ethel grew up in Connecticut and married Robert F. Kennedy in 1950. Ethel and Bobby would share a passion for politics, service to their country, and social justice that they would pass on to their eleven children. As the wife of a rising political star, Ethel was often at the forefront of many pivotal events in the mid-20th century such as the McCarthy hearings, the Civil Rights movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the groundbreaking political elections of the 1960’s, and the battle for labor rights. During this time, she encouraged her children to understand the historical importance of the times and be actively involved in improving the lives of others.
Political Participation Justice Change Human Rights Power Decision making Civic values Political systems Citizenship
Born on October 4, 1942, Kek Galabru received her medical degree in France in 1968. She practiced medicine and conducted research in Phnom Penh from 1968 to 1971, and continued her work in Canada, Brazil, and Angola. In 1987– 88 Galabru played a key role in opening negotiations between Hun Sen, president of the Cambodian Council of Ministers, and Prince Sihanouk of the opposition. That led to peace accords ending the civil war in 1991, and elections held under the auspices of the United Nations. Galabru founded the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) during the United Nations transition period. LICADHO promotes human rights, with a special emphasis on women’s and children’s rights, monitors violations, and disseminates educational information about rights. During the 1993 elections, LICADHO’s 159 staff members taught voting procedures to 16,000 people, trained 775 election observers, and produced and distributed one million voting leaflets. Since then, LICADHO has remained at the forefront of human rights protection efforts in Cambodia by monitoring abuses and providing medical care, legal aid, and advocacy to victims. LICADHO offers direct assistance to victims of human rights violations, especially torture victims, children and women from its headquarters in Phnom Penh and its twelve provincial offices. In 2005, Galabru was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize project.
Health Care and Potable Water
Justice Human Rights Global citizenship Government Power Individual responsibility Health Care Potable Water
Violence Against Women
Justice Human Rights Empathy Power Freedom from Violence Individual Integrity Identity Decision making Civic values Womens Rights
Marina Pisklakova is Russia’s leading women’s rights activist. She studied aeronautical engineering in Moscow, and while conducting research at the Russian Academy of Sciences, was startled to discover family violence had reached epidemic proportions. Because of her efforts, Russian officials started tracking domestic abuse and estimate that, in a single year, close to 15,000 women were killed and 50,000 were hospitalized, while only one-third to one-fifth of all battered women received medical assistance. With no legislation outlawing the abuse, there were no enforcement mechanisms, support groups, or protective agencies for victims. In July 1993, Pisklakova founded a hot line for women in distress, later expanding her work to establish the first women’s crisis center in the country. She lobbied for legislation banning abuse, and worked with an openly hostile law enforcement establishment to bring aid to victims and prosecution to criminals. She began a media campaign to expose the violence against women and to educate women about their rights, and regularly appears on radio and television promoting respect for women’s rights. Today her organization ANNA (National Center for the Prevention of Violence) operates a network of 170 crisis centers across Russia and the former Soviet Union. She is now active not only in combating the scourge of violence against women, but also trafficking of women and children. In 2004 she was the recipient of the Human Rights Global Leadership Award. Pisklakova’s efforts have saved countless lives, at great risk to her own.
Justice Human Rights Empathy Decision making Civic values Microcredit Economic systems Values Choice Needs and wants Factors of production
Founder of the Grameen Bank, the world’s largest and most successful microcredit institution, Muhammad Yunus was born in one of the poorest places on earth, the country (then part of Pakistan) of Bangladesh. As a professor of economics, he was struck by the discrepancy between the economic theory taught in universities and the abject poverty around him. Recognizing that the poor remained poor because they had no access to capital, no collateral for loans, and borrowing requirements so modest that it was not cost-effective for large banks to process their needs, Yunus started experimenting with small collateral-free loans to landless rural peasants and impoverished women. In 1983, he founded the Grameen Bank. Its rules were strict and tough. Clients find four friends to borrow with. If any of the five defaults, all are held accountable, building commitment and providing community support. Initial loans are as little as ten dollars, and must be repaid with 20 percent interest. Nearly twenty years later, this revolutionary bank is flourishing, with more than 1,050 branches serving 35,000 villages and two million customers, 94 percent of them women. Ninety-eight percent of Grameen’s borrowers repay their loans in full, a rate of return far higher than that of the rich and powerful. More importantly, the clients are transforming their lives: from powerless and dependent to self-sufficient, independent, and politically astute. The real transformation will be felt by the next generation: a generation with better food, education, medication, and the firsthand satisfaction of taking control of their lives, thanks to Yunus’s vision, creativity, and confidence. Among many awards, Dr. Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Together with Nelson Mandela, fellow Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu and select other prominent statesmen, human rights leaders and public figures, Yunus has been a member of the “Global Elders” group.
Who do you think is protecting you?
Justice Human Rights Fair Treatment Civil rights Equal protection Police misconduct Racial profiling
Van Jones is the founding director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Founded in 1996 and named for an unsung civil rights heroine, the Center challenges human rights abuses in the U.S. criminal justice system. A project of the Ella Baker Center, Bay Area Police Watch is committed to stopping police misconduct and protecting victims of abuse. Police Watch takes a multifaceted approach, combining advocacy with public education and community organizing. Staff work directly with individuals who have suffered police harassment, intimidation, and brutality. Jones’s efforts to establish civilian oversight, and to require transparency and accountability within disciplinary proceedings, have yielded results. Jones’s efforts to ban the use of pepper spray, routinely used by police in subduing suspects, has helped launch a nationwide campaign against the chemical weapon.