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  • Writer's pictureAnaïs Tobalagba

Human rights and sustainable development

Our hopes for a more just, safe, and peaceful world can only be achieved when there is universal respect for the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family.

– UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Human Rights Day

On December 10th each year, the international community celebrates Human Rights Day. This important celebration commemorates the day, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is the first legal document to have ever set out a list of fundamental human rights for all humans, irrespective of their nationality, their ethnic origin, their skin color, their sex, their language, their religion, or any other status. Since 1948, other international treaties have been adopted to complement and clarify the UDHR, and to create specific standards for women, children, persons with disabilities, minorities and other groups considered more vulnerable to abuse. They include, for example, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, among others.

While there are many definitions of what human rights are, most agree that human rights have some precise characteristics. They are generally understood as moral and legal guidelines aimed at protecting individuals and peoples’ dignity, and at promoting shared values of equality, fairness and independence. Human rights include, for example, the right to life, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right to work, the right to food, the right to education, and the right to health. Human rights are also deemed universal, inalienable and indivisible. This means that they apply equally to all, that they cannot be taken away from anyone, and that all rights are equally important.

It is primarily up to the State to protect the human rights of its citizens. In fact, under international law, States have three obligations. They have to respect human rights (refrain from interfering with people’s human rights), protect individuals and groups from human rights abuses, and fulfill human rights (take specific actions to facilitate the enjoyment of human rights). The Australian government, for instance, has agreed to uphold several human rights treaties. The Australian Human Rights Commission then monitors Australia’s performance in meeting its human rights commitments, and ensures that these standards are reflected in Australian laws and policies. Similarly in Kenya, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is the State’s lead agency in the promotion and protection of human rights. Its objective is to investigate and provide remedy for human rights violations, and to monitor the country’s compliance with human rights standards.

Despite States’ commitments to human rights and the establishment of national human rights institutions, there is still significant work to be done, globally, to make sure that all individuals and groups fully enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms. Australia has a strong record for protecting civil and political rights but serious human rights concerns remain. The country is currently under international scrutiny for holding refugees and asylum seekers in offshore centres, with many of them suffering from complex medical and mental health needs due to, or exacerbated by, years of detention and uncertainty about their futures. Indigenous rights are also a significant issue in the country. Local civil society reports a lack of recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s territorial rights, problems of incarceration and police violence, disproportionate poverty and suicide rates, and battles with the mining industry over resources. Kenya also faces a number of human rights problems, including inequity in accessing health systems. Indeed, among other factors, stock-outs of medicine and other medical supplies, dysfunctional medical equipment, shortage of healthcare workers, and frequent strikes have adversely affected the availability of health services. Likewise, although Kenya has made great progress towards increasing access to education, due to free primary and day secondary education, children with disabilities, children living in pastoral and nomadic communities and in urban informal settlements, and girls still face substantial challenges in accessing quality education.

How Gennarosity Abroad supports Human Rights

It is increasingly recognised that protecting and promoting human rights for all, is an essential component in achieving sustainable development - a guiding principal of Gennarosity Abroad projects.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 interlinked goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". The SDGs were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. Grounded in international human rights law, the sustainable development agenda offers critical opportunities to further advance the realisation of human rights for all people everywhere, without discrimination.

Gennarosity Abroad’s projects predominately focus on the first six of the SDGs:

  1. No Poverty (All projects) - Gennarosity Abroad strives towards ending poverty across all of our projects. The five tools to ending poverty include; quality education, access to healthcare, water and sanitation, economic security, and child participation.

  2. Zero Hunger – (New Hope Children’s Centre and Rhonda’s Maternity) Ending hunger, achieving food security, improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture are essential to the success of New Hope. Abandoned babies and orphaned children are provided nutritious meals so they can grow and thrive in their development. Not only does New Hope support 130 children, but they also support vulnerable populations within their community who are poverty stricken, living with disabilities, and assisting those who have become unemployed and homeless due to Covid-19. New Hope relies on donations to cover the costs of food staples they cannot grow themselves such as flour, oils, sugar, salt, rice, beans, cereals, grains, and baby formula. New Hope grows majority of their own fruit and vegetables. At Rhonda’s Maternity, many mothers and children seeking delivery services in the clinic are in dire need of health nutrition services. There is a need to in cooperate a funding component of a nutrition staff to work out a feeding programme for mothers and infants and strive to promote nutrition education and strengthen the community family units to offer broad based services in order to eliminate malnutrition cases.

  3. Good Health and Wellbeing – (all projects). Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages are emphasised across all our projects. Simple things like living, working and learning in safe and clean environments assists with our health and wellbeing. Since Covid-19 all projects are now abiding by strict hand washing and sanitation. Our two projects focusing on health and wellbeing is Rhonda’s Maternity Clinic and Grandma Jenny’s Training Centre. Rhona’s Maternity Clinic focuses on reducing infant and maternal mortality rates. Gennarosity Abroad hopes to address several challenges such as the lack of adequate funding, resource allocation and under staffing. Rhonda is in dire need of a lot of essential, lifesaving resources especially during this time of COVID-19 pandemic. Grandma Jenny’s focuses on health education to empower women and girls to make informed decisions about their sexual health and family planning.

  4. Quality Education (Karunga’s Emanuel Kindergarten, Grandma Jenny’s Training Centre, and New Hope Children’s Centre) – Having access to quality, inclusive and equitable education provides children and adults with the knowledge and life skills they need to realise their full potential. Education is transformative to the livelihoods of those who attend and their families ultimately educating entire communities.

  5. Gender Equality (Grandma Jenny’s Training Centre and Rhonda’s Maternity Clinic) – Gender inequalities are still deep-rooted in every society. Women suffer from lack of access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. In many situations, they are denied access to basic education and health care and are victims of violence and discrimination. Through Grandma Jenny’s and Rhonda’s Maternity, Gennarosity Abroad aims to elimination discrimination against women and girls through empowerment and achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights and humanitarian action.

  6. Clean Water and Sanitation (All projects) - The frequency and intensity of local water crises have been increasing, with serious implications for public health, environmental sustainability, food and energy security, and economic development. Poor access to clean water and sanitation also prevents many girls and women from gaining an education and employment. All of our projects have water tanks to ensure clean drinking water is accessible and water for washing of hands.

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