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International Human Rights Day 2018 – Time We Focused on Education Reform

11 December 2018 Posted by No Comment

Tuesday, 11th December 2018

The world celebrates International Human Rights Day on Monday. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly — then headquartered in Paris — ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This day is now celebrated and marked across the world with high level events and more hosted by Governments, rights-based organizations and more.

But it seems that in 70 years, our struggle forward to ensure human rights and dignity for all is still a painfully slow one. Women and people of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations in particular face an assault upon their basic rights on a daily basis. For the 16 days of Activsm against Gender Based Violence this year (which ends on World Human Rights Day) bakamoono.lk released a series of videos entitled ‘#HaveAChat’. The issues looked at ranged from virginity, HIV to cyber exploitation and violence – and they all are rooted in an violation of people’s rights.

Access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (which now has broadened to relationship education) for young people is grounded in internationally recognized human rights, which require governments to guarantee the overall protection of health, well-being, and dignity, as per the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and specifically to guarantee the provision of unbiased, scientifically accurate sexuality education. These rights are protected by internationally ratified treaties, and lack of access to SRH education remains a barrier to complying with the obligations to ensure the rights to life, health, non-discrimination and information, a view that has been supported by the Statements of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee, and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNESCO).

It is evident and undeniable that gender norms and regressive attitudes are not simply a matter of attitudes and beliefs held by individuals, but are produced and perpetuated by political, economic, cultural, and social structures, including education systems. Challenging and reforming this structure is likely to be a long-term endeavor, and a crucial one. As UNSECO states in it’s rational for CSE, “We have a choice to make: leave children to find their own way through the clouds of partial information, misinformation, and outright exploitation that they will find from media, the Internet, peers and the unscrupulous, or instead face up to the challenge of providing clear, well informed, and scientifically-grounded sexuality education based in the universal values of respect and human rights”.

The message across the #HaveAChat videos was simple – to even begin to tackle these issues we urgently need age appropriate relationship education in schools, based on the principles of equality, respect and consent. If we don’t – in 30 or even 70 years we will still be making these videos and having this same conversation.

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