International Human Rights Day: Recovering better to shape our post-pandemic world

World Human Rights Day: Celebrated on December 10

Thursday, December 10th is International Human Rights Day. There are very visible gaps in human rights protection and OPSEU/SEFPO is calling on elected leaders for justice and to bring change.

This year’s theme is Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights. It’s a new call for action around the world concerning ongoing gender inequalities, entrenched racial discrimination, and skyrocketing poverty in many parts of the globe.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected racialized and Indigenous communities to a greater degree than others. Racialized and Indigenous communities are more likely to live with pre-existing conditions that make them more susceptible to contracting the virus. When they must rely on a system that has historically left them at a disadvantage, it is difficult to erase the trauma caused by systemic discrimination. They also face other difficulties including job and food insecurity, access to affordable healthcare, and increased domestic violence during this time of increased social isolation.

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says it’s time to think about the kind of change that we can start to make now as we prepare to rebuild a post-COVID society.

“From a human rights standpoint, this pandemic has exposed multiple gaps in our social fabric,” said Thomas. “It should motivate us to do better because we have the opportunity to build a stronger and more equal community.”

Marginalized communities are calling for structural changes that are not only meaningful but will ensure fair and equal access to services, resources, employment, and food, among others.

“The road to recovery will depend on governments and big corporations putting people first” said Elizabeth Ha, Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Provincial Human Rights Committee (PHRC). “We need to make sure that the protection of basic human rights will be at the forefront of any sort of proposed recovery plan.”

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says there is a need to build solidarity around change and that includes communities working with all levels of government.

“We must all play an active role in shaping the post-pandemic world that we want to live in and one that future generations can thrive from,” he added.

As marginalized communities have suffered the most hardship from the pandemic, recovery efforts must focus on them first. It should be a plan that puts basic human rights ahead of financial gains, one that will no longer put profits and corporations first.

We must honour the basic human rights that we should all have and ensure that everyone has free and equal access to the benefits that come with these rights. Future generations will see how, as a community, the world came together during this time, united in its quest to ensure that fundamental human rights are accorded to everyone.

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