DEC 8TH, 2019 | CHARLIEVILLE – #HumanRightsDay is observed annually on December 10th to commemorate the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly.
Human rights gain new meaning every day when injustice and inequality defines a person’s reality. The simple freedoms and privileges that many people take for granted, such as the right to an education free from discrimination and access to medical resources are not always equally available to all Trinbagonians. The rights of our queer and non-binary citizens continue to be under threat when discrimination, intolerance and erasure remain the silent norm that serves to undermine the very fundamental rights of the most vulnerable.
In spite of this, The Silver Lining Foundation (SLF) has remained committed to challenging these for the vulnerable, the underserved and the marginalised. We pledge to continue to fight for human rights as it is enshrined not only in our own pillars of support, education and advocacy but also in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
SDG 4, Quality Education, speaks to fostering a more inclusive and equitable education. It focuses on including more diversity and eradicating discrimination in education. With the release of our 2016 Trinidad and Tobago School Climate Survey (TTSCS) “Bullying & Gener-Based Violence in Secondary Schools” and also our “Safer Schools: Managing Diverse Classrooms” Workshop, SLF has strengthened our resolve to create safe spaces at school for our nation’s youth. We have also committed ourselves to work with teachers and school administrations to develop teacher skill-sets and equip teachers with the tools to deal with classroom diversity, violence and bullying. Through these initiatives, we recognise the need for the Ministry of Education to work with schools to capitalise on student support services, especially in light of our present model of education, which does not take different ways of learning and instruction into consideration.
SDG 5 speaks of Gender Equality. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right; it is a necessary foundation for peace, prosperity and a truly sustainable world. We live in a country where 1 in 3 women will experience some form of domestic violence and with an even lower ratio of available support. Our TTSCS study revealed startling figures of approximately 15% of surveyed students experiencing sexual assault that demands urgent attention in the form of universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education as agreed upon at previous multilateral fora.
The year 2020 is supposed to have heralded a new era in national development. Given the sample statistics above, SLF is asking whether we have positioned ourselves to embrace a new paradigm of thought as it relates to policy formation on human development? It’s clear we are not there yet but it is our hope that this new decade brings with it new leadership on all levels and in all communities that have the resolve and commitment to create a world that is much fairer and equitable for all.
Jeremy Steffan Edwards
Executive Director / The Silver Lining Foundation