‘I have the right to…’ or ‘I have a dream…’?

‘To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.’ / Nelson Mandela/

21st century… The era of robot hearts, artificial organs being grown in labs, bionic prosthetics, cyberknife surgery, artificial intelligence, drone deliveries, electric driverless cars, space exploration and other outstanding scientific achievements that prove the unlimited possibilities of the human mind.

21st century…In a moment where Ukrainian people are suffering the horrors of a war; the time when people are forced to leave their own country as it cannot offer safety; the time when people, moved by global issues such as climate change, gender discrimination and various inequalities, need to fight for their rights; the time when teachers take to streets because they have to struggle for quality education and decent salaries their governments do not offer to those responsible for educating the future generations of doctors, engineers, politicians and world leaders…

On 10th December 1948 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations presenting the fundamental human rights that should be guaranteed to all the people and nations. Nowadays, in 2022,  these rights are still violated and ‘democracy on the European continent is under attack.’ Shall we remain silent and indifferent in the comforts of our homes?

Remember that the world is full of injustice, and even evil, which you should oppose with courage.

Justice, freedom, dignity and quality of life must be constantly fought for.

/Jan Karski/

Democracy and Human Rights on Europeana

Learning about the past allows one to handle  present issues in a better way. Europeana offers numerous resources depicting cases when democracy was seriously threatened, such as the blog post devoted to Jan Karski – Witness to the Holocaust, the author of the quote mentioned above. If you are interested in how the European Parliament promotes human rights, The Pioneering Role of the European Parliament exhibition is a must. Spanish Counterculture During the Transition and The History of LGBTQ+ Rights in Spain will definitely interest not only Spanish readers. Those willing to find out how suffrage became an important pan-European movement will enjoy the Europeana blog post entitled ‘Celebrating the History of Women’s Rights.’ ‘When Walls Talk’ exhibition is also worth visiting as it illustrates how protest posters were used to fight for human rights throughout history.

Education Is the Key

Only by educating young people on democratic values and human rights can we ensure that they will be protected in the future. Realising that, the Europeana educators have created countless learning scenarios based on the topic. Thus, if you are searching for materials connected with the history of democracy, check out The Long Journey of Democracy, Communism vs. Democracy or The Path to Equality Land and Is Censorship Still Here? if you wish to discuss with your students the responsibilities coming with freedom of speech. Women, Feminism and Human Rights and A Timeline of Women’s Rights in Europe are good choices for educators aiming at making students reflect on women’s roles in society.  The World We Want will provide you with ideas on how to organize a class debate on human rights. Check out I Have a Dream and See, Understand, Challenge – Be a Change Agent! if interested in learning scenarios that promote democratic participation and encourage students to become active citizens.

21st century… I do not want to think, ‘I have a dream I live in a free, equal world.’ I know I have the right to live in such a world. And everyone does!

By Katarzyna Siwczak, Europeana Education Ambassador

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