Our Community, Our Rights is a project by Women’s Health West that engages migrant and refugee women in human rights based advocacy training and project work, and promotes participation in Australian society. Our Community, Our Rights has worked with women from South Sudan, Burma and India over three iterations. We hope to facilitate human rights workshops with other refugee and migrant communities in the future.
In 2014, Women’s Health West worked with women from India to build their confidence to assert their rights, advocate for change, and increase women’s participation in civil society. The women were passionate about promoting respect for human rights and learning practical skills and strategies to create a better, fairer world.
In 2013, we facilitated workshops with women from Karen, Chin, Karenni, Zomi and Kachin communities (from Burma) on human rights, making change and being active in the community. We practised skills like asserting our rights with the doctor, making complaints to human rights bodies, and using the media to make our voices louder. We then supported women to design and deliver their own advocacy projects addressing community concerns.
The first phase of Our Community, Our Rights supported South Sudanese women in the west to engage with topics including racism and discrimination, health, rights at work and in education and safety. Women’s Health West supported the women to plan their own human rights advocacy project on a topic they identified as important to their community. Their Hope for a New Beginning project was designed to work with the Equatorian South Sudanese community to understand the problem of violence against women and begin to identify solutions.
Over these three iterations we learned a number of lessons. We have tried to collect these learnings into fact sheets for service providers about running human rights advocacy programs, and fact sheets for community about human rights.