MUMBAI, DEC 14, 2015: What are human rights? Why do we have them and why are they so important? These were some of the questions that 40 youth answered at the third Human Rights Forum that was held at Don Bosco High School, Matunga on December 6.

HR 1“Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always” was the theme of the forum and the aim was to discuss and understand the importance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in mobilising and empowering young people to participate in communities and at the grass-root level.

The forum started with a prayer service, where petitions were related to an MDG.  Samson Carvalho gave a brief introduction to the programme, after which Susanne Rodrigues presented the United Nations Secretary General, Ban-Ki-Moon’s opening message on human rights.  After the introduction to the programme, eight groups of youth gave a presentation on a particular MDG. The groups gave a brief explanation about why the MDGs were introduced and to what extent they have been achieved. They highlighted the areas where they are yet to be implemented.  This enabled the participants to gain a lot of knowledge and access to resources about these goals.

Vivek D’Souza, the programme coordinator, then explained the 17 SDGs adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2015. A group discussion followed and every group was given one SDG to focus upon. Groups had to underline the resources which would help achieve the SDG at the community level.  They also discussed the process of achieving these goals through individual efforts.  The groups then presented their conclusions to all the participants.

Towards the end of the forum, Marina D’Costa, a human rights activist and youth leader, facilitated the commitment session. Every individual, present at the forum, vowed to uphold human rights, which would lead to the betterment of society.

A stand-out feature of the forum was the fact, that it was led by young individuals from different backgrounds, communities and walks of life.  It was a successful, inHR 2formative and interesting discussion.  The participants went away convinced that they can’t live in isolation, and that it was necessary to stand up for the human rights of others in our society, in our nation and the world.

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