We’re celebrating Human Rights Month during the entire month of December!
Read more about the icons we’ll be celebrating all month long below.
About Universal Human Rights Month
Universal Human Rights Month commemorates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, in the aftermath of World War II, largely as a response to Nazi atrocities. Drafted by the UN’s Commission on Human Rights, then chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, the Declaration, while not binding, set the course for international human rights law for the last 70 years. The Declaration asserts, among other things, that:
- All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights
- Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person
- No one shall be held in slavery or servitude
- No one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
- Everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law and, if charged with an offense, shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty in a public trial
- Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within their country, and everyone has the right to leave their country and return. Everyone has the right to asylum in another country if politically persecuted.
- Men and women [sic.] of “full age” have the right to marry and found a family, and are entitled to equal rights within marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage can be entered into only with free and full consent of intending spouses.
- Everyone has the right to rest and leisure
- Everyone is entitled to freedom of thought and religion
- Everyone has the right to participate freely in cultural life, the arts, and to share in science and its benefits
- Everyone has the right to education. Higher education should be equally available to all “on the basis of merit”
While an imperfect document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been a key element in asserting the basic rights of peoples in circumstances of oppression around the globe. While representatives of the United States, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, were instrumental in the creation of the document, several US administrations of the past decades have been hostile to elements of the Declaration. The observation of Human Rights Day on December 10 began with the UN General Assembly in 1950; George W. Bush proclaimed a Human Rights Week in December, 2001; and the observation has since expanded to the entire month of December.
The following iconic women have been involved in struggles for freedom and development of the concept of human rights:
Eleanor Roosevelt Download
After escaping slavery, Tubman (also known as “Moses”) conducted 70 others out of slavery over 11 years, and was a key abolitionist leader.
The first American food celebrity, Child broke into the famously male-dominated world of French cuisine and made it accessible to American home cooks.
A civil rights activist and major American author and poet, Angelou wrote movingly from an experience of blackness and as a survivor of abuse and trauma.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
A pioneering lawyer arguing for gender equality and women’s rights, Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the US Supreme Court, from 1993-2020.
Abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and advocate for equality of Blacks and women with white men, Truth was known for her influential speeches, including “Ain’t I a Woman?”
Celebrity aviator Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic solo.
Joan of Arc
A young peasant who mobilized the French against the English during the Hundred Years’ War, Joan was ultimately captured by the English and burned at the stake.
A longtime civil rights activist, Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott when she refused to yield her seat to a white passenger.
A scholar and attorney, Obama rose to prominence as the first Black US First Lady.
One of the most progressive voices in the US House of Representatives, Ocasio-Cortez won a massive upset victory over a 10-term incumbent in 2018 to become the youngest woman to serve in the US Congress.