Human Rights: there’s a change gonna come

Human Rights: there’s a change gonna come

by Lisa Walsh, Wise Women

I had the privilege of completing a six-month Human Rights training programme with Making Rights Real, and what a heart-warming, memorable and life-changing experience it truly was.  Throughout this blog, I am going to be taking you through the journey with me, I hope you enjoy it. 😊 

The programme has so much to offer – not only did we learn so much about what Human Rights are, who has Human Rights, and who is responsible for our Human Rights, but we also learned about the values and principles of Human Rights. Sounds boring, right? But honestly, it’s the complete opposite. Stick with me…

We also learned how Human Rights are protected domestically and internationally and what Human Rights look like in Scotland’s context. We learned what Human Rights are protected in Scottish Law and what aren’t (one of the most shocking things we learned!).  The exciting part about what is coming in Scotland is the big Human Rights train, it is on its way, it’s exciting!  So come aboard, you won’t regret it! 

Lastly, the final piece that took a bit to get my head around was who were rights holders, duty bearers, and the role of the state to protect, respect and fulfil Human Rights.

What we also got to do at training, which makes this different from most training and may I add more enjoyable, was all the group work activities, discussions and brainstorming we have done as a team. 

From learning and applying the PANEL approach to FAIR principles to our work, we then began to look at our own professional and personal life and see where Human Rights have been breached and who was accountable for it. Applying everything we had learned to the work we do was the shift for me, and that’s where the sense of purpose and understanding aligned. Then ultimately the end goal of training is to create a plan of how we can use a Human Rights based approach in our work. 

The group work activities and discussions helped me to grasp a better understanding of Human Rights. Being able to relate it to real life is what made it click, and that was due to having a great teacher!  

Why did I get involved in Human Rights you may ask… it was a professional opportunity to start with. As I am a board member of the network, this training was the next step for growth for us in how we move forward with the projects for women we provide services for.

“But on a personal level, I had very limited knowledge of Human Rights before the training.   I knew they existed, but was always scared to look into them- it was too big, too complex and felt way above my capabilities. This programme allowed me to challenge these beliefs and myself, and learn with the support of my sisterhood for a much greater purpose.”

I was asked what made this programme memorable, oh man!…where to start…ALL OF IT!!

Yes, there is a lot to take in and although I know way more than I ever thought I could, there will always be more to learn. 😊 

The tasks and activities made us think outside the box, and think about things we may never have thought of – and think in a way I don’t think we could have without this programme.

How empowering learning about Human Rights is. How incredibly useful and meaningful it is not just in a professional manner but a personal one also. I know for me it has changed my mind-set and perspective.

As for the bonding aspect, we were a close group anyway, but I feel by coming together the way we have kind of sparked a rebirth in us. Despite the challenges most face in the sector we work in and what we face as a network, there is a spark and passion again. It’s refreshing…exciting…feels worthwhile again, and hopeful!!

What is the importance of Human Rights to the work I do I hear you ask…

The work I am involved in and the campaigning I do is to fight social injustice for women, survivors of domestic abuse, and rape and sexual assault warriors.  I fight for better support services, breaking the myths and stigma attached to being a survivor and fighting for a better justice system for survivors to have faith and belief in. 

As a survivor myself, it is personally important to me to never give up the fight! Knowledge is power, the more I learn, the better I can fight. 

Human Rights are not just important to the work I do, but in everyday life, they are so important. 

I never realised their importance till I learned about Human Rights on a daily basis. Human Rights are being breached left, right and centre. It’s going unnoticed and unchallenged. It’s being allowed to continue because most people don’t understand Human Rights and don’t think they can make a difference.

But you can…WE ALL CAN!!

As for what is next for the network – we have a 12-month project plan going on right now for women’s safety on public transport. 

The network’s determination, passion and drive are at an all-time high, and although we know it is a lot of work to complete, applying what we have learned in this programme and in the work we have already achieved, we know this is a huge and significant piece of work for the women we support.

It feels like we are winning 

It’s not all doom and gloom

It is positive and achievable 

Watch this space!! 😊 

You can find more information about Wise Women here: