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Celebrating Human Rights Day

December 10 is a very special day as countries and organizations across the world celebrate Human Rights Day, which aims to protect the inherent rights of every person on earth.

Motivated by the experiences of the preceding world wars, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in a 1948 meeting in Paris.

It was a landmark document that proclaims the inalienable political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights of every human being, regardless of gender, race, religion, language, political affiliation, birth or national origin.

Intended to set a common standard for all nations to aspire to and implement in the pursuit of international human rights laws, the UDHR is available in more than 500 languages and is one of the most translated documents in history.

The UDHR has 30 articles that declare the things that all people should be entitled to, such as the right to life, liberty and security of their person. It also proclaims that no one shall be subjected to torture or inhumane treatment, and that everyone has the right to choose their own employment. Everyone should have the right to an adequate standard of living, including food, housing, clothing, medical care and social services, the document says.

Human Rights Day was the product of a dedicated campaign led by Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt who served as Chairperson of the drafting committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

She used her considerable political and social influence to solicit ideas from leaders of numerous nations and then build consensus around the language in the document. She also played an instrumental role in getting it passed by the United Nations General Assembly.

More than a decade earlier, President Roosevelt had signed into law the Social Security Act, which was meant to be a federal safety net for the elderly that would provide a steady income in their old age and was championed by the nation’s first female member of the U.S. Cabinet, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. Social Security was part of Roosevelt’s New Deal series of programs that included public works projects, financial reforms, regulations, and other federally funded services meant to create jobs and lift America out of the Great Depression.

Building on those advances, Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor became a staunch advocate for protecting the rights of women, children and minorities. After her husband’s death in 1945, President Harry Truman appointed her as a delegate to the United Nations, which positioned her to lead the effort in creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a few years later.

Human Rights Day is important to us because it aligns with our social mission of creating jobs and economic opportunities for refugees who were displaced by war and geopolitical conflicts.

Many of these refugees left everything behind when they fled from regional violence, and they struggled to find permanent homes and pay for clothing, food and other necessities to support their families. They are eager to work so they can earn steady income and get back on their feet.

We worked with refugee leaders to create a cooperative called TKIS NOBATI, which empowers the refugees to have a say in how work is arranged and managed. We hire these workers to hand-pick our rosehip berries and create our beverages.

Lia, a refugee who picks rosehips for NADI, says the experience has given her life a new direction and goals to work toward.

“This project has given me hope,” Lia said. “Every morning, I feel like my life has new meaning.”