Human Rights Day 2017: Stand Up for Each Other, #StandUp4HumanRights

Organizing for Zimbabwe Trust (O4Z) joins the rest of the world in commemorating the World Human Rights Day, a day celebrated annually to mark the significant human rights breakthrough by United Nations through the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) , a global guideline for the respect of basic human rights.

Rejoiced under the theme, ‘Our Rights Our Freedoms Always’, this year’s commemorations have a significant impact on the launch of a global campaign for the 50th anniversary of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted in 1966, which two conventions together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

In Zimbabwe the day came at a time the country is going through a restructuring phase politically, with the new government and some civil society organisations working together towards addressing different challenges affecting the people of Zimbabwe.

As we commemorate this day we stand guided by the National Youth Manifesto , a youth driven document developed to guide government and policy makers towards the full development, protection and respect of young people’s priority needs and rights as enshrined in the Zimbabwe’s National Youth Policy .

Over the years, the Zimbabwean government has been struggling to meet its constitutional obligations to serve, develop and protect young people. We however feel that given the financial constraints in government, all the youth issues highlighted in the Revised National Youth Policy could be easily addressed if the government is to focus on education and skill development, gender equality and equity, youth participation and empowerment, youth health, as well as youth employment and sustainable livelihoods. These are the very critical areas that if addressed or payed attention to will go a long way in alleviating poverty, realising the full potential of young people as well as respecting human rights, whose violation hinges mainly on lack of attention on the aforementioned areas.

From this background, as an organisation we have initiated a campaign aimed at advocating for the provision of subsided or free sanitary pads to school rural going girls and those in marginalised communities by the government. The campaigned informed by various saddening statistics from different organisations seeks to remind the government that it has a constitutional obligation to ensure that these young girls’ health needs are well provided for as stipulated in section 76 of the Zimbabwean constitution. My Health My Dignity Campaign , thus, aims at standing up with school going girls against lack of access to proper menstrual hygiene services, access education and most importantly creates an environment that is accommodative of all despite their gender.

We collectively call for the respect of human and people’s rights for effective growth and development and as we strongly urge our government, political parties and other security forces to respect human rights as the nation prepares for the 2018 elections. Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Zimbabwe Republic Police to come up with a strong conflict resolution mechanism that will guard against political violence in this electoral period.

It is through the respect of human rights that the world can be able to complement rather than compete with itself. The heterogeneous nature of young people as a demographic group should not separate them but rather strengthen them to work towards the respect and protection of human rights. Youth must stand for each other; they must stand for human rights.

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