Human Rights Day
On 10th December 2018 we celebrate Human Rights Day. Many Who’s Who biographees have fought for justice and equal rights throughout their lives, from Joanna Lumley and her campaign for justice for the Gurkha people to Most Rev. Desmond Tutu, who worked tirelessly to end apartheid in South Africa by the means of peaceful protest.
Nobel Peace Prize winners are represented, such as Malala Yousafzai, who famously survived a gunshot wound to the head in her native Pakistan in 2012 and now travels the world advocating for the education of young women. Other Who’s Who biographees awarded the Nobel Peace Prize include former US president Barack Obama, environmental campaigner and former politician Al Gore, Mother Teresa who devoted her life to improving living conditions for others, and the social activist Martin Luther King.
Martha Spurrier, Director of the human rights charity Liberty, Lloyd Axworthy, Chairman of the World Refugee Council, and Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK can be found amongst Who’s Who biographees. Other charity pioneers include Jasvinder Sanghera, who founded Karma Nirvana, a charity supporting victims of honour-based violence, after escaping her own forced marriage by running away from home at the age of 16. Community worker and campaigner Paul Stephenson rose to fame for boycotting and protesting against companies who refused to treat all customers equally and was awarded an OBE in recognition of his work. Other notable names include Kamran Mallick, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Rights UK, and Baroness Grey-Thompson, the Paralympian and a Trustee of the British Institute of Human Rights. Human Rights Watch UK Director, David Mepham was instrumental in pushing for action against human rights violations across the world, particularly in the Eastern Congo and Myanmar.
Some Who’s Who biographees list social justice and equality campaigning amongst their recreations, including ‘campaigning, feminism’ (Lilli Geissendorfer, Director, Jerwood Charitable Foundation), ‘campaigning for gender equality’ (Dame Teresa Rees) and ‘campaigner for human rights’ (Prof. Christine Gosden). In politics, the Labour MP Dr Stella Creasy has been named as one of Amnesty UK’s Human Rights Heroes, and her colleague Jessica Phillips has served as Victim’s Champion for Birmingham as well as campaigning extensively on issues of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
In the arts sector, the poet, writer and political activist Benjamin Zephaniah’s children’s book Refugee Boy was published in 2001, highlighting issues around immigration and human rights. George Clooney, along with his wife Amal, an international human rights lawyer, has set up The Clooney Foundation for Justice, which provides funding for the schooling of Syrian refugee children.