A lot of the freedoms we enjoy today are because of the brave men and women who fought for our liberation and freedom so it’s imperative we protect our human rights. South Africa celebrates Human Rights Day on 21 March each year to remind us about the sacrifices made by the thousands of people who struggled against apartheid and oppression.

Fast forward to today and although many things are so much better, we’re still facing a lot of societal issues from high unemployment to poor quality education, and it is the youth of today who have taken on the challenge to face these issues head on to protect our rights.

Our Constitution, which protects our human rights, is known as one of the most advanced in the world. Part of celebrating Human Rights Day is ensuring we remain committed to the Bill of Rights found in our Constitution. Here are just a few of these rights:

  • Equality Everyone is equal and must be treated equally and cannot be discriminated against because of their race, gender, sex, marital status, ethnicity, colour, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion, culture, or language, among others.
  • Human dignity

Everyone has the right to having their dignity respected and protected.

  • Freedom of movement and residence

Everyone has a right to freedom of movement and to reside anywhere in the country.

  • Freedom of Expression
    Everyone has the freedom to say, write or print what they want, but this right must never break the law, or violate anyone else’s right.
  • Freedom of Association
    Everyone has the right to associate with anyone they want to associate with, including trade unions, political parties, or any other organisation.

Whether we are at the workplace, in the classroom, or with our family and friends, we are all responsible for our country’s future. Here are three ways we can become Human Rights’ activists.

  • Bump up your knowledge. Watch a movie on South Africa’s history, or listen to a podcast. Long Walk to Freedom, a movie about President Nelson Mandela is a winner, or Amandla, a documentary on the use of music in the struggle against apartheid.
  • Donate to a Human Rights organisation: Which human right issue is close to your heart? Education? The rights of the elderly? The problem of xenophobia? Gay rights? Find an organisation doing work that you admire and make a donation. The smallest amount of money can change someone’s life for the better.
  • Get involved: Go where the issues are which are close to your heart. Look for opportunities to get involved. Volunteering your time is a great way to make changes, whether it is running an afterschool homework club for disadvantaged kids, taking part in a run against sexism, or helping to feed the homeless. Voting for candidates who can improve current state of affairs can also contribute greatly to the better human rights in South Africa.

Reference: 15 basic human rights you should know (sahrc.org.za)