More than 260 million (~14%) children around the world are being deprived of an education, an inalienable right for many but a distant dream for many others. Over half of these are girls, and 75 million are out of school because of conflict and natural disaster. The staggering statistics seem unfathomable to most of us who enjoy a steady dose of structured education, clean running water and a safe place to live and thrive. But the blinders need to be removed, and the boundaries determining who is able to receive an education need to be razed.
December 10 marks Human Rights Day 2017. In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being -- regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages…and for good reason.
Drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Although a solid foundation was built, its promise is yet to be fully realized. But there is still plenty of hope.
As we approach the document’s 70th anniversary, it is time to embrace its power and value and realize that equality, justice and the freedom to learn prevent violence and sustain peace. The principles written decades ago are timeless despite the changing landscape of our world. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, and rally others to do the same.
This is a humanitarian crisis, but it is also an epidemic that needs to be resolved for economic growth and prosperity around the world.
Girls and boys who go to school, learn to read, write, count, live healthy lives and will provide a better future for their families. Also in school, they learn the importance of respecting and supporting one another and ways to interact that foster growth, not fear or suppression. The benefit is an exponential one and those reverberations are what lead to more growth throughout the world.
Nearly 70 years ago, when this important day was proclaimed, Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. [...] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."
At WAGE, it is in these small places that we have hope that we can be part of the growth, one word at a time. One such way is through mentoring programs. Please stay tuned for an upcoming project we are working on in Asbury Park.