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Set your sights on human rights!

  • Excited faces beseeched us, expectant minds, with a longing to be armed with the penetrating artillery that is human rights awareness. Cooped in a cosy hut situated at the centre of the Mulagi sub county was a flame that begged the attention of a nurturing party. We were here to satisfy this burning desire!

    This was the official introduction of the shift from the needs based approach to the rights based approach to be implemented through all the thematic areas of the organisation. It marked a move from handouts to stomp-outs, receiving to demanding, stakeholder analysis to duty bearer and rights holder engagement! Well, although it adds very little to what is perfectly evident, this was as big of a deal for ARUWE as it was for the beneficiaries!

    Before I begin, I thought it best to lift the veil so to speak off the bride of the day. Who is she? What are human rights? Well put simply these are entitlements which everybody has by virtue of their status as a human being. You say: if they are given so freely, they are likely to be unappreciated and under protected. Ahh Eureka! And here lies the dilemma. To ensure success, our bride must be married with demand from the rights holders and action from the duty bearers. Key word for today: accountability!

    Empowerment was the name of the game as power relations sat comfortably at the centre of the engagement. As requested by the ladies, the attendance of men and children were crucial, rightly so! Thus we had no issue practicalising these sometimes distant theories.

    But one thing was apparent if nothing else; these beneficiaries had snuck at a taste of the tree of good and evil. They acknowledged right practices and equally identified the wrongs in their community. Electrifying comments travelled across the room. Familiar phrases such as “freedom of religion” and “right to education” made welcomed appearances. Suffice to say, they did not fail to tickle the minds of these human rights enthusiasts.

    There we stood, our objectives were simple, to distribute the machinery and send the soldiers out to war. This is the bedrock of the demand driven advocacy. To acknowledge entitlements as just that, forsaking all thoughts of “political privileges” and “democratic benevolence” as a well advertised folly. Propaganda at its best. Nonetheless, we acknowledge that a balanced argument is well encouraged. Thus the issue of an “excess of rights” and little political restraint was mentioned and was met with some support!

    Being conscious of time, how did it end I hear you ask? Well with a pledge of course. As an army pledges to the state, this troop pledged to the development of their sub county. To the flip chart flag, hand on heart they spoke (c’mon that’s the best we could do!). We pledge to identify and report violators, to educate ourselves on our rights, to be accountable to one another and to engage government and other duty bearers!

    A job well done! But until next time, from the barracks we salute you and await your return!

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