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March 21 is Human Rights Day in South Africa

What are human rights?
By being a human, you have human rights. These are rights that you are born with and that cannot be taken away from you - "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled." They include such things as the right to life, property, freedom of expression, education and equality. In South Africa, it it illegal to infringe on another human’s rights, and our constitution protects these accordingly.

Why are human rights important?
Basic human rights are important for society and individuals. Having basic human rights gives people a sense of worth which allows them to speak up for themselves, educate themselves and become productive members of society. When people have a sense of worth, they function better in society. They go to school or work, pay their taxes and contribute positively to the growth of society. 

What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is document created by various representative from all over the world declaring the basic rights a person has. It was proclaimed on 10 December 1948 in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly and set up basic human rights for universal protection for the first time. International Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December.

Why is March 21 Human Rights Day in South Africa?
Human Rights Day in South Africa is linked to the events which happened in Sharpeville on 21 March 1960. Police fired on peaceful protestors killing 69 and wounding 180. They were protesting new pass laws in South Africa. ‘Passes’ were a type of passport all non-whites had to carry with them. The events on 21 March 1960 (and other such events) inspired our Bill of Rights and made it the most progressive bill at its time of writing. It’s in remembrance of this day that South Africans celebrate Human Rights Day on 21 March.

At Good Hope Volunteers, we respect the rights of all people and encourage growth and development within our communities (especially with our social volunteering projects) so that everyone’s basic human rights can be met and are not infringed upon.

The Good Hope Volunteer Team

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