Women’s Rights Coming to a City Near You!

By Kate Kelly & JoAnn Kamuf Ward, Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute

A number of recent and exciting developments in the local implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) have occurred over the past year.  There are now 9 ordinances in place, and 28 city, county and state governments have adopted CEDAW resolutions. There is also growing momentum of women’s rights movements around the country, including the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, as well as the ongoing work evidenced by women’s marches and other groups demanding accountability.

To  build upon this energy, and continue the momentum, the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights convened a CEDAW strategy session on the margins of the 2018 UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York.  This meeting was a unique chance for advocates from around the country to collaborate, share lessons learned, and support each other in efforts to operationalize CEDAW at the local level. Representatives from CEDAW advocacy groups, local government, and academia, representing over 20 cities and counties were present, from Portland to Pittsburgh and Denver to Durham, and many places in between.

To ensure that advocates across the country can continue to raise awareness of what CEDAW entails and how it can be useful in the local context, the meeting conveners developed user-friendly materials that include a two-pager that distills the basic provisions of CEDAW, as well as a plain language guide to all of the General Recommendations from the CEDAW Committee, reflecting interpretations of the treaty.  These materials are available on the Cities for CEDAW website, along with more in-depth guidance for implementing CEDAW locally.

>> Learn more
>> Join the Cities for CEDAW Coalition

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and Teaching Tolerance has assembled the following articles and video to help educators celebrate the heritage of this diverse group of Americans with their students—this month and throughout the year.

  • I AM ASIAN AMERICAN
    Uncover the true diversity beneath the Asian American label.
  • TEACHERS, CHECK YOUR TEXTS
    LGBTQ Asian identities need to be amplified in the school curriculum—and not just during a heritage month.
  • HAWAIIANS LIVE IN ALOHA
    This video excerpt is from A Place in the Middle: The True Meaning of Aloha, a 2014 short documentary film. The film can be viewed in its entirety here.

Refugee Crisis Curriculum

Generation Human Rights has had the incredible opportunity to work with RFKennedy Human Rights and CARE to create two curricula for middle school and high school classrooms on the current world refugee crisis

Last year, as the worldwide refugee crisis continued to escalate, RFKennedy Human Rights, Generation Human Rights and photographer and documentarian Ron Haviv came together to create a comprehensive high school multimedia curriculum on the global refugee crisis. The curriculum fills an urgent real time need as educators and youth locally and abroad struggle to fully understand how the crisis originated, how it impacts communities and how students globally can step into the role as human rights defenders in response to the situation.

For middle schoolers, Generation Human Rights and CARE created another interactive multimedia curriculum about the refugee crisis called Letters Of Hope Classroom. The lesson plans enable students to develop a tangible understanding of the crisis and supports them to make connections with young refugees around the world. The program encourages the development of empathy and inquiry as students create a foundation on which to better understand human rights and the global refugee crisis that finds more 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes and countries.

>> Download High School Curriculum
>> Download Middle School Curriculum

Muslim American Educators Driving Change in the Classroom

Nagla Bedir and Luma Hasan (pictured above), both social studies teachers in New Jersey, co-founded Teaching While Muslim to help address some of the challenges and frustrations they experienced as students growing up as Muslim Americans.

Trying to articulate a complex identity when faced with peers and educators who have a limited understanding of what it means to be Muslim often left Nagla and Luma on the defensive, responding to micro-aggressive questions and bigoted accusations that would not be necessary if school curricula were fully inclusive.

twm-logo.pngNow as educators, they are driving the change to address this lack of inclusion.The Teaching While Muslim site is a space intended to deepen understanding of the complicated identities of Muslims in the United States, including the diverse experiences of Muslim educators. It is also a platform for resources and tools.

Bedir and Hasan took a few minutes to talk about their efforts and where they see their work headed.

>> Read More
>> Support the movement for racial justice in Education

Teaching Empathy

Check out these two new lessons created by the grand finalists of the Facing History and Ourselves 2017 Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grants. Today’s world calls for more empathy and these two winners have worked hard to develop approaches that help your students understand empathy and how to consider other points of view that may differ from their own.  Explore them today and see how you can create a more compassionate world with your students.

>>  Download Lessons

Human Rights as a Tool to Address Climate Change

Professor Rebecca M. Bratspies of CUNY Law School has published a timely new article in the current issue of the University of Miami Law Review, titled The Climate for Human Rights.  Here’s the abstract:

Climate change is the defining challenge of the 21st century.  The United States government is currently ignoring the problem, but wishful thinking alone will not keep global mean temperature rise below 2ºC. This Article proposes a way forward. It advises environmental decision-makers to use human rights norms to guide them as they make decisions under United States law. By reframing their discretion through a human rights lens, decision-makers can use their existing authority to respond to the super-wicked problem of climate change.

>> Read full article

Girl’s Rights Platform

Plan International has developed a new Girl’s Rights Platform that consists of a vast searchable database of a variety of human rights documents and conventions by the UN and regional bodies. There’s also a UN debate tracker planned. That platform has been developed for human rights activists, NGO staff, and academics and is also a useful resource for educators who work with girls and on human rights. The platform includes an online learning experience with modules on different aspects of girls’ human rights. To find the modules, follow the link to the quiz section where you can test and increase your knowledge.

>> Visit website

It Gets Better Project – Education Guide

 

The It Gets Better Project is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that uses digital media and more to help uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ+ youth around the globe. They recently launched a new education initiative, one that centers on free-for-download EduGuides that accompany some of their best films, video series, books, and more. The resources are meant for the classroom, as well as any space where learning occurs and where empathy and inclusivity of LGBTQ+ youth are encouraged.

>> Learn more

March for Our Lives and Human Rights

Everyone has the right to be safe and secure, and live without fear. But in the U.S., gun violence is an epidemic that directly threatens these human rights. Whether you’re walking down the street, in a school or at church no place is truly safe. In fact, 30,000 people are killed with guns each year in the U.S. and 80% of all gun deaths in the world take place in the U.S. (Amnesty International)

According to International Law, the U.S. government has clear and urgent obligations to protect the people living in this country from gun violence. But the U.S. has a patchwork of inconsistent and inadequate federal and state gun control laws and has failed to take all measures necessary to prevent gun violence as evidenced by the most recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida where 17 students were killed.

The lack of legislative action to reduce this man-made epidemic continues to hold our country at gunpoint and prevent us from exercising our human rights. Of course, a key challenge is how to enforce these human rights obligations and that’s where activism ,  like the above youth-led initiatives,  play a critical role. We the people must demand that our elected officials respect, protect and fulfill our human rights — including those of people most impacted by gun violence: youth, women and people of color.

On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives and communities across the nation will take to the streets to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.

On April 20, a second nationwide school walkout has been planned, which marks 19 years since two teens killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado. Started by a Connecticut student who lives within 30 minutes of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Like the previous walkout, at 10 a.m. students will gather outside, where 17 minutes of silence will honor the victims in Florida.

Stoneman Douglas survivors have also spearheaded initiatives that do not require walking out of school, such as their Vote For Our Lives campaign and #NeverAgain: Pick Up a Pen, which asks students, teachers and concerned citizens to write to lawmakers.

Planning to be part of the national actions on gun violence?  Check out these resources for teachers and students.

The World As It Could Be Institute

EVENT DETAILS:
When: Saturday, March 17th
Time: 9:30 – 4:30 pm
Where: Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th Street, Oakland, CA
Cost: Free. Registration Required.

A day-long Institute by the World As It Could Be Human Rights Education Program. Participants will learn about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and how to utilize the UDHR to take positive action to address issues of concern. Modeled after their successful 3-day Institutes, the program will combine fun and meaningful experiences with creative arts to encourage different ways to communicate and express ideas about human rights in our most immediate circles.

>> Learn more and register
>> Download flyer