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Welcoming 2007, the Year of Equal opportunities

7 March 2007 · Category: Interfaith

Despite the good European legislation calling for equal rights and adopting laws to try and guarantee them is not enough to ensure that equal opportunities are enjoyed by everyone in practice. The 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All is an initiative leading the way to a bolder strategy seeking to give momentum to the fight against discrimination in the EU.

During the Year, all discrimination grounds have to be treated in a balanced way and the different ways in which women and men experience discrimination on the grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation have to be considered as well.

According to the EU Commission, the Year aims to: 

• make people more aware of their rights to enjoy equal treatment and a life free of discrimination - irrespective of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation

• promote equal opportunities for all

• launch a major debate on the benefits of diversity both for European societies and individuals

In line with our fundamental beliefs, we have decided to fully support this Year of Equal Opportunies for All and to launch a series of events to raise the awareness on the year and the basic message of NON DISCRIMINATION, EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES but most important of RESPECT.

How are we going to support this year, then? Education on human rights issues is an essential factor in enabling young people to participate in broader and deeper discussions on the subject of their rights. Without an understanding of human rights, they are unable to have even a basic self-determination and choice over their options, including how they can assert and protect their rights, determine their own future or participate in the creation of a better society in which they live.

Our primary attention is to bridge this critical gap in human rights education. If human rights are only portrayed as a dry or distant subject, then they become accessible to only the privileged few who not only have access to education, but are fortunate enough to be educated on their rights in schools. Unfortunately, the vast majority of young people, including those who have easy access to education, are never provided the opportunity to truly know what their rights are and to understand how to practically use and protect these rights.

It is for this reason that in liaison with Youth for Human Rights International, we have created a series of audio-visual tools to make the subject a living one and to bring home to people what human rights are. To date, 18 such informational publications and 34 audiovisual presentations in as many as 21 languages have been published.

The latest release being made available are a collection of 30 short films of less than one minute each, every one of them covering a different article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

These films have been produced and sponsored by the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International. In viewing these films, human rights come alive. They have been written and produced so that the viewer can relate these fundamental principles to their own lives and thereafter look towards how this can be used and applied in their own lives, communities and societies.

They are a basic educational tool for fostering discussion and deeper understanding of the Universal Declaration as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child as they relate to specific articles or topics. They will enable child participation in understanding and applying human rights far more effectively in the home, school, community and broader society.

As involvement and active participation in society is a core subject matter for this meeting, we hope that these short films will make a significant contribution to achieving this goal.