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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Erasmus+: Equality for All

Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) hosted a 6 day project between the 14th November and 21st November 2015, called “Equality for All”.  In “the city of Peace and Justice", The Hague, 24 young people from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Romania, Spain, Ukraine and The Netherlands came together to participate in the mobility of youth workers project. 

Behind the name, “Equality for All”, stands the purpose to increase the capacity of youth workers and leaders in developing effective rights-based advocacy strategies for their organisations. The theme this time was Young people from the LGBT Community and the challenges they face in their home countries.The overall goals of the project were:
  1. to increase the capacity building of youth workers in developing a rights-based advocacy strategy for their organisations, with particular focus on issues faced by LGBT youth
  2. to explore possible partnerships to organise future projects focusing on improving the quality of youth work in promoting and protecting LGBT rights under Erasmus+ umbrella.

    Presenting and discussing the LGBT situation in Romania

To reach the objectives the organisers put together a list of activities are based on methods of non-formal learning. These activities included: group discussions, role plays, debates, round table with guest speakers, thematic evenings, case studies, presentations and workshops. During these activities the participants had a chance to receive trainings from some of the leading LGBT organisations, human rights defenders and other stakeholders in the Netherlands such as: COC Haaglanden, Gale Education, University of Amsterdam, Leiden University and Utrecht University.

Skype roundtable with leading human rights defenders

Developing an effective advocacy strategy enables youth workers to influence policy makers and other relevant stakeholders in order to fulfil the rights of LGBT youth, which was reflected in the core topics of the trainings:
  1. Identification and analysis of problems
  2. Mapping of stakeholders
  3. Creating advocacy action plan
  4. Choosing method to advocate
Presentation given by GALE Education 
Furthermore, during the workshop sessions covered various topics such as: international human rights instruments and mechanisms (such as UN’s human rights mechanisms) and LGBT education and anti-discrimination measurements in schools. 

Gathering ideas for educating children in schools about the LGBT rights and anti-discrimination measures 

The proposed working methods and sharing of best practices allowed the participants to not only learn more on advocacy strategies but about the tools that are adopted by leading LGBT organisations in The Netherlands and human rights defenders from different countries. And of course there was room for intercultural evenings where participants could learn about different cultures while having a nice chat in a more unofficial environment.

Participants enjoying snacks during the Intercultural evening

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A look back at the Human Rights situation in Bangladesh

Bangladesh lies between India and Myanmar in South Asia. It is a country with a vibrant society and a parliamentary democracy. The country’s population is around 158 million[1].

There are many fundamental aspects that define a state, such as: the country’s economic and political situation or as in this opinion piece will discuss the human right situation. As the quote in the beginning of the article states: “Human rights is a universal standard”.

The work of local civil society organisations is essential in human rights documentation as they are the frontline workers who advocate for promotion of human rights and they shed light to the stories of the victims and survivors.  

As an example, for the past couple of years the Ain O Salish Kendra (a legal aid and human rights organisation, hereinafter: ASK) has held an annual press conferences where they shared the main results of their annual reports on the human rights situation in Bangladesh. I base this analysis on information taken from ASK’s documentation of newspaper articles and their own sources reflecting human rights violations and articles reporting on the earlier mentioned press conferences. 

This year one of the news articles said that the human rights situation has worsened in 2015. The question immediately rises: Compared to what? 2014? Or is there a bigger picture which allows us to look back for years?

Between 2013 and 2015, several articles highlighted different areas of human rights which showed that every year another field showed dramatic changes. Based on their report in 2015, there were several areas where there were significant deterioration, for example: repression on religious minorities, freedom of expression, violence against women and political violence.  I would like to highlight the following areas:

Violence against women and children is showing a growing tendency, especially in the field of sexual harassments. From 2014 to 2015 there was almost a 40% growth in the cases of domestic violence. It is also important to mention that acid attacks (ca. 35 cases) were highlighted during the press conference in 2015.

In terms of communal violence there are great differences from year to year. In 2013, there were 278 houses attacked, burnt or destroyed and then next year the number of similar cases 761. However, in 2015 there was a significant decrease in the number of reported cases down to 104.

Based on available numbers it is clear that there are serious human rights violations which need to be addressed. The local human rights organisations like ASK work hard to gather information and data that can be presented for the general public and organisations on a national and/or international while also advocating for the improvement of the human rights situation.

Below you can find a table which includes data gathered from articles and ASK’s HR monitoring reports. 

Political Clashes
848 [i]
664 [ii]
Communal violence
Houses: 278
Businesses: 208
Temples: 495 [iv]
Houses: 761
Businesses: 193
Temples: 247[v]
Houses: 104
Businesses: N/A
Temples: 213[vi]
Violence against journalist
Deaths: 3
Assaults/ Harassments: 342[vii]
Deaths: 3
Assaults/ Harassments: 239[viii]
Deaths: 2
Assaults/ Harassments: 244[ix]
Violence Against Women
Rapes: 812
Deaths: 87
Domestic Violence: 385[x]
Sexual Harassment: 182[xi]
Acid attacks: 44[xii]

Rapes: 707[xiii]
Deaths: 68
Domestic Violence: 488[xiv]
Sexual Harassment: 146[xv]
Acid attacks: 48[xvi]

Rapes: 846[xvii]
Deaths: 60
Domestic Violence: 373[xviii]
Sexual Harassment: 205[xix]
Acid attacks: 35

Forced disappearances
Deaths in jail custody
Mob beatings (Deaths)


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Communication for Change

Between 13th and 19th of November 2015, the Global Human Rights Defence organised a training titled ‘Communications for Change’, a 6 days training for 21 youth workers from seven different countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine). The aims of the training were to develop a strong communication strategy for youth workers and their organisations; to explore possible future partnership between the participating organisations; to organize projects focusing on improving the quality of youth work; to improve the capacity of youth workers in social media, online fundraising, campaigns and marketing and to allow the them to share best practices with other youth workers.

The training was an intensive six days presentations and workshops that mostly started at 10:00 to 19:00. It always consisted of presentations by trainers, workshops and role-playing. At the end of each day, the participants were divided into smaller groups for an evaluation session. The project officially started on Sunday, 13 September 2015 with the introduction to the training week and the objectives of it and followed by team building games.

                                   Communication Strategy training by GHRD project team

 On the following day, the participants had on Communication Strategy that was presented by GHRD team, followed by workshop on Introduction to Communication and Advocacy by UNOY (The United Network of Young Peacebuilders).

                           Introduction to Communication and Advocacy workshop by UNOY 

On the third day, the participants had a session on how to make a perfect pitch for their work and organisations. This session gave the opportunity to the participants to learn about guerrilla marketing through Elevator Pitch. The participants learned how to deliver the summary of their ideas to someone important (potential investors, clients, etc.) on an elevator ride, which approximately takes in thirty seconds to two minutes.

                                                         Brainstorming ideas 

 The following day, the workshop was presented by Enviu, a start-up company that focused on improving the quality of life of people in a sustainable way. This session gave the participants a practical insight into communication strategy in 5 stages, which are planning, preparation, implementation, evaluation and follow-up and decide the best way for each phase. In the end, every organisation had to present their own version of communications strategy for a project.

                                                     Team-building game in Mytikas

Next training was a visit to youth organisations who had successful approaches in working with young people through theatre and other creative means. For instance, one approach is to offer young people, who have dropped out of school, an alternative education through arts. The participants were engaged in a similar workshop which began with a team building game led by one of the coaches. The participants were also challenged to make a short play (approximately 5 minutes) with the topic on daily social problems, for example, school bullying.

The last day of the training was about storytelling through social media and online fundraising. These sessions were practical ones which included many discussions and practical examples on how to implement the learning outcomes directly to your work.

                                                      In the Communication Museum

Apart from presentations and workshops, the participants also had the chance to visit the Communication Museum. The visit to the Communication Museum, for instance, was aimed to show to the participants the impact of communication on daily life. In this museum, the participants could enjoy designs, secret messages, expeditions, facts and a touch of nostalgia.

                                                       Ukrainian food and drink

One of the unique programmes of the ‘Communication for Change’ training was the Intercultural Evening. This programme gave the participants the opportunity to introduce typical drinks and food from their country and other items as well, such as pictures, music, typical clothing, etc.

                                   Participants from Croatia with their cultural presentation

                                                          Serbian and Croatian desks

Participants from every country had to deliver a brief presentation about their countries and to explain drinks, food and items that they brought from home, followed by a food tasting. Participants from Croatia arranged a small interactive quiz; they gave souvenirs to people who could answer questions about their country.

                                                   GHRD team, Anna and Jasper, 
                                      were introducing typical Dutch snacks and sweets

                                                                     Armenian desk 

Furthermore, Ukrainian participants introduced their folk dance that was demonstrated together. As a host, GHRD team also had the chance to give a presentation about the Netherlands. They introduced typical Dutch snacks and sweets and also arranged a small quiz for the participants.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Global Hands Erasmus+ training ‘’Integration through Action’’

I participated on behalf of Global Human Rights Defence in a 6-day training for 25 youth workers from eleven different European countries . The training entitled 'Integration through Action' was organised by Global Hands at De Montfort University in Leicester, United Kingdom. During the training we were introduced to the concept of Social Rights in Europe as well as issues of racism and stereotyping. The seminar stimulated us to develop key skills related to these topics through non-formal education methods and we got familiar with interactive methods to engage with young people across Europe, especially those on the margins of society, who often find it difficult to access their social rights. The seminar has given me valuable theoretical and practical tools and insights in the topic, and it has truly been an unforgettable experience.

On the day of our arrival, the project was officially opened by Marco and Momodou, the facilitators during the week of training. The location, which looked like a trendy lounge, immediately ensured a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere for the ‘getting to know each other’-games.

During the following days we created mind maps, posters and presentations on several topics in the field of integration, played instructive games related to stereotyping and prejudice and expanded our theoretical knowledge through lectures – all in a non-formal education setting.

The intercultural evening proved the perfect opportunity to introduce Dutch cookies and sweets (the stroopwafels were a hit –of course) and a typical Dutch game: koekhappen. 

One of the highlights of the Erasmus+ training was the ‘local realities day’, during which we visited the Racial Equality Centre and a Gurdwara, a Sikh temple, in Leicester. It was truly special to experience a Sikh wedding ceremony.
Each and every one of our group participated in the – sometimes heated – discussions we had on topics such as stereotyping, racism and integration. Even though we all live in the European Union, and may sometimes be neighboring countries, the issues we face differ significantly.
At the end of the training week, each group developed and designed their own project. Our masterpiece was entitled ‘Equality and Diversity’, and given our faces we were very proud of the team effort.

Despite the many cultural differences, we had one thing in common: our group loved to dance. Here we are practising an Angolan dance, which was definitely an interesting experience