Human Rights Day


‘20 years working for your rights’ is the theme for Human Rights Day 2013 as the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) marks 20 years since its establishment. The day will be celebrated globally in more than 50 countries, with a look back at the events of the past 20 years and the successes and challenges. There will also be a strong emphasis on the future and identifying the challenges that lie ahead for human rights.

Women’s rights as human rights

Among the top 20 Human Rights achievements of the last two decades, OHCHR lists the acknowledgement of women’s rights as fundamental human rights. It notes that discrimination and acts of violence against women continues to be at the forefront of the human rights discourse.

Despite this, the statistics for women and girls facing violence, discrimination and other forms of rights violation are sobering. Consider this: 1 in 3 women and girls are subjected to violence in their lifetime, with women in urban areas twice as likely as men to experience violence. 1 in 3 girls in developing countries will be married before they turn 18; more than half of all victims of sexual assault are girls under the age of 16; and for 30% of women worldwide their first sexual experience was forced. Furthermore, according to a recently released State of the World Report from UNFPA, adolescent pregnancy is intertwined with issues of human rights. These issues, among others, include child marriage; gender inequality, sexual violence and coercion; and lack of access to education and reproductive. The report recommends one of the ways to protect girls from adolescent pregnancy is to protect their rights to health, education, security and freedom from poverty.

The Road ahead

There will be events going on around the world to mark the occasion with a focus on bridging the equality gap and building a vision for an effective human rights system in the next two decades and beyond.