The Fiji Times
Remove the barriers
Creating awareness on human rights of youth in the Pacific
YOUTHS often encounter difficulties in accessing education, quality employment, social protection and full access to civil and political rights that often limit their potential. There is a need for specific protection to tackle discrimination against youths and to remove the barriers that stop them from accessing their rights. This was highlighted by Ignite4Change coordinator and youth advocate Broderick Mervyn after attending the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) Pacific Co-Design workshop which was held for three days in Auckland, New Zealand.
Mr Mervyn was part of a 43-member group from the Pacific who explored the potential to improve human rights in the region through expansion of the HRMI’s human rights data-set.
The goal of HRMI was to help bring about a paradigm shift in respect of the human rights of all people all around the world.
HRMI exists because it believes that the goal will be assisted through better production and use of quality metrics that track the human rights performance of countries.
He was one of the five participants who were from Fiji. “The key goals for this workshop was to build understanding and relationships with Pacific partners, to co-design ways to communicate human rights data that suit people in the Pacific and territories, to seek feedback on the suitability for the region of our expert survey and our data visualisation tools, to explore the best ways to identify survey respondents in each place and to appoint more HRMI ambassadors for the Pacific,” he said.
“Human rights amongst youths and Pacific Island communities are not necessarily an issue that is often talked about by the common people of society except in urban areas, by government and professionals concerned about the welfare and rights of individual.”
He said human rights of youths and communities in the Pacific (excluding Australia and New Zealand) were not as strongly highlighted as expected in the region.
“Most Pacific Islanders tend to turn a blind eye on the issue of human rights due to the fact that it is not well understood,” he said.
“Human rights in the Pacific are not a foreign issue that needs to be adopted but a standard of life modified and edified for the respect and equality of all human races in the Pacific.
“The ideas and skills that I had gained from the HRMI Pacific Co-Design Workshop have enabled me to be wellinformed on all human rights issues and governing instruments and that will enable me to take responsibility for my actions as an agent of change in my community, youth group and university.”
Some of the recommendations made at the workshop included incorporating human rights as an extra-curricular subject incorporated in Family Life Education, careers or infiltrated in all subjects in primary and secondary schools to be well-equipped on the context of human rights, doing awareness programs like advertisements and billboards along roadside, media and advocating into provinces and village communities and conducting roadshows and workshops in rural areas, rural communities and outer islands.
“Encouraging and strengthening the human rights of youths will make a vast impact to the development and progress of the Pacific Island countries holistically but must be well structured due to the vulnerability of the age group commonly pushed aside,” he said.
He said giving back to the community was always a big part of his to-do list, but it takes time and commitment.
“I hope to see youths make a change, realise their potential and believe they can do anything positive in life,” he said.