DEC 10 is observed around the world as Human Rights Day. The theme this year, “Youth Standing Up for Human Rights”, could not be more apt to remind the growing numbers of disillusioned and apathetic youths that we are never too young, insignificant or powerless to change the world.
In fact, the actions of youths can be powerful enough to shape policies on a national and even global level.
Few of us are able to stand before bodies like the United Nations Climate Action Summit and deliver rallying calls like Greta Thunberg that spark a global youth movement and shine the spotlight on traditionally-ignored topics while overcoming institutional and political barriers.
However, I believe that people can play their part in standing up for human rights in lives.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed the inalienable rights that everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being, irrespective of race, religion, skin colour, gender, nationality, language and cultural differences. However, it is with profound sadness that human rights are increasingly being sidelined.
Diversity, instead of being celebrated, is vilified and twisted by self-serving agendas to fracture societies and divide communities.
Embracing diversity is no superficial act but must be practised, especially when conflicts or potential conflicts present themselves.
Recognising that people are shaped by their cultures, communities and experiences naturally makes them perceive the world differently. This empathy and understanding are essential to reduce diversity-related conflicts.
An inclusive society is innately one that is peaceful and harmonious through not only recognition of diversity, but also the respect for differences, acknowledgement of the validity of cultural expressions and contributions, and recognition of the value other cultures offer.
The concepts of diversity and inclusion should be no stranger to Malaysians. We have the good fortune of experiencing diversity of cultures, beliefs and languages without even having to leave our country.
We get to see firsthand how Malaysians not only strive to build an inclusive society among its people, but also exemplify itself as an inclusive society among its regional neighbours, Asean and globally.
I am, therefore, proud to be part of a movement that champions the cause — the DIYC Movement.
The DIYC Movement is an educational youth movement formed in Malaysia that aims to enable youth to become ambassadors for embracing diversity and practising inclusion, and empower them to become force multipliers by spreading the movement and its messages in their communities.
As the next generation to the world, we should do our part in creating a better world for future generations.
I hope that youth movements like the DIYC Movement can help shape the future of our region, Asean and even the world, and thus cement our generation’s legacy as that of the youth who stand up for human rights — the people who lead by example, respect diversity in cultures, identities, beliefs, languages and values, and through that create a truly inclusive society.
Former secretary-general (2018), DIYC and executive, Chairpersons Office of the United Kingdom and Eire Council of Malaysian Students