April 24, 2024

Seeking change is the goal of activism. The majority of us define activism as the deliberate pursuit of political, social, economic, or environmental change. Activists battle for freedom, justice, and civil rights. Every nation in the globe has activist movements, many of which are centered on human rights. Human rights advocates have opposed oppression, segregation, patriarchy, and slavery throughout history. There are going to be activists for as long as there is injustice.

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What kinds of human rights activism are there?

Activism is a collection of actions. Successful activism movements use various forms at the same time in most cases. Here are five instances:

Protests and marches

Protests and marches—which can also include concerts, vigils, sit-ins, and lies-ins—raise awareness of concerns, call for certain actions, and/or commemorate significant anniversaries. Marches and demonstrations draw large crowds of participants, but orderly, accountable leaders and team members are necessary for safe protests. Marshals are one type of supportive function; they typically don colorful vests. Marshals run messages, obey orders from organizers, and assist in maintaining a secure and well-organized demonstration. Medics are also necessary for organized events; these volunteers usually have a basic first aid certificate and equipment to handle injuries, chemical agent assaults, dehydration, and exposure to heat or cold. Those with stronger ties to the cause or greater activism experience typically hold important supportive positions.

Boycotts

A boycott of a firm’s products and/or services may be called for by activist organizations if the company participates in damaging or immoral business practices. The bus fare in Johannesburg, South Africa was raised in 1957. People walked up to 20 kilometers a day in protest instead of taking the bus. Over the course of the following six months, some 60,000 individuals took part in the protest. In the end, the bus fares were agreed to be subsidized by the local Chamber of Commerce. When boycotts work best, they have such a profound financial impact that the company is compelled to adapt. At times, a boycott acts as a catalyst for increased public awareness and subsequent action.

Writing letters and petitions

Letter-writing campaigns and petitions encourage community engagement, demand specific measures from businesses and politicians, and hold them accountable. A nonprofit organization in the US called Vote Forward organizes letter-writing drives to entice voters who are not yet registered to cast ballots. Volunteers compose letters by hand using a letter template using a nonpartisan method. Over 200,000 letter writers took part and sent out over 17 million letters in 2020. Vote Forward calculates that 126,00 votes were gained as a result of their Big Send campaign. Internationally, the UK-based organization Amnesty International runs a program called “Write For Rights,” giving participants access to a letter-writing kit and other materials. The campaign is centered on victims of torture, political prisoners, and other injustices.

Strikes

Strikes have always been a significant, if dangerous, form of protest. GM, the carmaker, amassed a fortune in 1936 by requiring assembly lines to run at dangerously high speeds and paying minimal salaries. In Michigan, more than 100,000 workers took a seat in their workplaces and refused to work right before Christmas. GM objected. Strikers were left in the cold by the firm, even turning off the heat. Only food donations, money gathered by the men’s families, and a labor-friendly governor who refrained from using the National Guard as a weapon against them allowed the workers to remain in the workplaces. When GM eventually consented to talks after 44 days, the strikers achieved a significant win. Strikes need strong planning, communication, and outside assistance because to the hazards involved.

Are those who use social media as activists real?

As social media persists in shaping our culture, many people are unclear about its place in the human rights movement. If anyone may engage in “real activism” from the comfort of their home, is that activism? Social media is a highly important instrument for human rights campaigning because of its accessibility. Declaring that activism is only “real” or significant when it takes place offline is ableist and elitist because many individuals are unable to participate in protests because of their jobs, disability, or other circumstances. Large numbers of individuals who were previously shut out of activism can be drawn in via social media.

Another reason social media activism is legitimate is because of its history. During the Arab Spring upheavals in 2011, activists in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and other Middle Eastern nations used social media to spread awareness. Videos received millions of views, and tweets about the movement shot up from 2,300 to 230,000 per day extremely rapidly. Experts came to the conclusion that social media was crucial for planning events and spreading awareness.

Activists for human rights and self-care

Human rights campaigners have a high rate of burnout. Frequently, the NGOs and nonprofits they work for are tainted by some of the very problems they are fighting against, such as sexism, homophobia, and racism. And there’s the perhaps nonexistent issue of safety. Because of their work, activists risk murder, violence, and jail in many parts of the world. Frequent physical disease, tiredness, disassociation, worry, sadness, and hopelessness are all indicators of burnout. Finding the time or energy to sleep, exercise, eat healthfully, and remain hydrated can be challenging. Activism sometimes seems like a pointless endeavor—like pushing a rock up a hill just to have it tumble back down. Activists are mentally, physically, and spiritually spent.