15 January 2013

Africa: New Youth Website Will Enhance Understanding of Human Rights and Poverty

press release

Young people in countries around the world have the opportunity to learn about the link between poverty and human rights thanks to a new digital platform launched by Amnesty International which allows them to take action and share their ideas.

Users of RespectMyRights.org can embark on two "interactive learning journeys" that provide educational information on the human rights violations that affect people living in poverty, including those facing forced evictions from their homes and communities.

The site then prompts young people to participate in Amnesty International's worldwide campaigns, as well as to share their thoughts and questions - or propose actions of their own - in a "Scrapbook" section.

"This project is innovative because the website is simultaneously a tool that allows young people to deepen their knowledge of human rights - and understand their importance in everyone's life - and invites them to take action," said Alberto Emiletti of Amnesty International Italy, which, along with the organization's sections in Slovenia and Poland has pioneered the project.

"Through this platform, young people can develop a good understanding of how human rights violations deepen poverty. They will be able to understand that these are global issues that can affect the reality they live in."

RespectMyRights.org is currently available in six languages - English, French, Spanish, Polish, Italian and Slovenian - and an Arabic version is in the works.

Aimed at those aged from 15 to 22 years old, Amnesty International believes the site will help young people and those who work with young people to facilitate a process of collective learning and promote taking action online.

In the interactive "Challenge" area of the site, users can discuss and reflect on what they have learned, to deepen their understanding of how human rights violations that affect others also relate to their own lives.

One current thread prompts young people to imagine they were about to be evicted from their homes and could only take one item with them. In response, users can post their thoughts and photos, as well as join in the conversation with other young people around the world.

According to Sarah Pyke, Communications Coordinator of Amnesty International's Demand Dignity campaign, "The best thing about respectmyrights.org is the opportunity it gives for young people to start a conversation, with Amnesty International and each other, about human rights - wherever they are in the world.

"Using the platform, young people can put themselves in the shoes of others like them who've had to make difficult choices, upload messages or images about their own experiences, or express their solidarity with other young people whose rights have been violated. In 2013, we'll be using the platform to engage young people on the issue of their sexual and reproductive rights - what are they, and how they can act to defend them. We can't wait to see what responses we get!"

Users of RespectMyRights.org can also share their experiences on the site with their contacts on popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Some young people have already begun using the website and leaving feedback.

Corrie, a student in Bermuda, thinks the project is a great way to link individuals around the world in solidarity:

"It made me feel really special to see my thoughts on the site right next to someone from a totally different country but who supports the same cause," she said.

Amnesty International's Human Rights Education Programme will be launching educational materials in the near future as a further support to young people, teachers, and others who work with youth who are using the RespectMyRights.org site as a learning tool.

"RespectMyRights is a dynamic, innovative digital tool that engages young people to learn about human rights and share experiences with others in a creative, quick, easy and fun online space, and to prompt action for change," said Sneh Aurora, Manager of Amnesty's International Human Rights Education Programme.

"This online tool complements the offline materials that Amnesty International is developing, aimed to encourage not only learning and sharing, but also taking action to address human rights violations in the context of poverty."

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