Since the onset of conflict in 2011, over 400,000 Syrian lives have been lost, and more than half of the population remains displaced; nearly 6 million refugees are living outside of the country and an additional 6 million are displaced within Syria’s borders, according to a 2020 World Bank report. Those who have lost their loved ones and their homes are often left voiceless, leaving an astonishing number of stories left untold.
Visual imagery can be a powerful medium for mobilization and awareness around a specific issue. These depictions are especially potent if they utilize a consistent symbol, one that can capture the issue in a vivid and recognizable way. The Resource Centre for Gender Equality (ABAAD), established in 2011, has risen to considerable prominence for its annual “16 Days of Activism” campaigns, each with a different theme to address gender equity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), are complex problems that are often tied to deep-rooted cultural and religious beliefs. As a result, combatting FGM requires a complex and multi-leveled process. In Guinea-Bissau, Plan International partnered with local NGOs and the European Commission to facilitate discussions and educational sessions about the dangers of FGM with various members of the community involved or impacted by FGM. These members include the women and girls at risk or victims of FGM, the local “cutter”, religious leaders, the village chief or mayor as well as medical professionals. This process of raising awareness has resulted in using public declarations to abandon the practice.
In order to ensure the rights of private-school teachers in terms of receiving the minimum wage requirement and summer months salaries, “Stand Up with the Teacher” campaign was established in 2015 with the support of the National Committee for Pay Equity (NCPE) and organized by the Ahl Foundation. The campaign has achieved several successes until 2017 when they lunched the #our_salary_in_the_bank hashtag which began as an online campaign on the 25th of September 2017. It ended with a sit-in of private-school female teachers in front of the Ministry of Education and resulted in transferring teachers’ salaries to bank accounts or electronic wallets is compulsory for all private schools.
In November 2017, June’s HIV+ Eatery opened for three nights to break the stigma surrounding people living with HIV in Toronto. Operating under the slogan “Break Bread, Smash Stigma”, all of the food served at June’s was prepared by HIV positive individuals-turned chefs. All of the seats at the pop-up restaurant sold out within two weeks, and the event garnered widespread worldwide media attention.
A leading group of private industry developers cultivated a plan to create and disseminate targeted anti-extremist online content to disrupt online terrorist recruitment efforts. Since the pilot program’s initial success in targeting ISIS recruits, this method has been further utilized to counter other extremist groups such as the violent far right.
Modifying societal beliefs and norms are most successful when the change comes from within the community. Such a transformation is now happening after the birth of every girl in the village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India. Villagers plant one hundred eleven (111) trees to honor the birth of the girl. The new custom aims to counteract the prevalence of female feticide by encouraging parents and villagers to plant trees in honor of a female child. It requires that parents promise to not marry their female child before adulthood, creates a community-funded trust fund for the child, and provides the community with the necessary resources to develop. Villagers have planted over 286,000 trees which are now providing not only a new tradition but environmental sustainability. In addition, villagers have planted over 2.5 million aloe vera plants which protect the trees and provide a source of livelihood. As a result, the ratio of girls to boys in Piplantri village has increased and girls are being given an equivalent position to boys in the village. The Piplantri 111 Trees has now spread to surrounding villages, broadening the respect and protection for girls.
Human rights violations can easily stem from a lack of interaction and accustom among diverse social groups. By simulating a library checkout of people instead of books, the human library helps foster respectful dialogue between distinctive individuals and their peers, intending to promote understanding on various lifestyles within any given community. Since the first event in 2000, the human library movement has grown immensely, now having taken place in an estimated 70 nations across every region of the world.
Time Out Tel Aviv created a video, ‘Jews and Arabs Kiss,’ to protest the banning of an Israeli-Palestinian love story in Israeli high schools. Through creating dialogue, this video served the dual purpose to demonstrate ideology and protest censorship.