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10 Human Rights Topic Ideas For You To Explore

Are you interested in knowing more about a human rights topic? Maybe you’re in school and need an idea for a project. People hoping to work (or currently working) in the human rights field also need to know about emerging trends. Even if your career isn’t in human rights, these topics are still relevant. Whether you want to volunteer with an organization, raise awareness about an issue, or simply know more about what’s going on, understanding the state of human rights is important. It’s the first step to defending rights and making the world a better place for everyone. Here are ten human rights topic ideas to explore:

#1. Gender inequality

Gender inequality is an evergreen human rights topic. Because it has such a long history, we have a good idea of what works and what still needs to be done. Issues like the gender pay gap, the distribution of unpaid labor, gender-based violence, gendered job segregation, and women’s empowerment play into the state of inequality. Due to the pandemic, gender parity was set back by about a generation, so how to best respond is also a good topic to explore.


#2. Climate change

The climate crisis is arguably the most globally urgent human rights topic today. Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change consistently confirm that human activity drives climate change. It affects rights like health, housing, food, water, education, and more. It disproportionately affects women, children, older people, minorities, migrants, rural workers, and other vulnerable groups.


#3. Children’s rights

Children often have their human rights violated. This is especially common during times of war, poverty, and other conflicts. The climate crisis represents one of the biggest threats. According to UNICEF, around one billion children are at “extremely high risk.” Kids need adults and organizations committed to speaking up for them and empowering their voices.


#4. The rights of migrants and refugees

More than 280 million people (about 3.6% of the global population) live outside their country of origin, according to the United Nations. Many of those migrants were forced to leave. The reasons vary significantly, but the human rights of migrants and refugees are often threatened. A report by the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the Mixed Migration Centre at the Danish Refugee Council gives us an example. The report detailed how people crossing routes between East and West Africa and Africa’s Mediterranean coast face human rights abuses from smugglers, human traffickers, and State authorities.


#5. Weakening democracy

Freedom in the World 2021, a report from Freedom House, found that authoritarian actors are becoming more brazen. 73 countries saw their freedom scores decline, including authoritarian states like Belarus and democracies like the United States and India. Considering that 2020 represented the 15th consecutive year of a decline in global freedom, weakening democracy is a disturbing human rights trend.


#6. Reproductive rights in Poland

Reproductive rights are important everywhere, but things are becoming dire in Poland. The country has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe thanks to the Law and Justice Party, which came to power in 2015. As things stand, nearly all abortions are effectively banned. This had led to protests like the massive 2020-2021 Women Strike. Groups supporting women’s rights have received bomb and death threats while individual activists are facing what many see as politically-motivated criminal charges. Anyone invested in reproductive rights should watch what’s happening in Poland.


#7. Disability rights

Due to barriers and discrimination, disabilities make it difficult or impossible for people to participate in the workplace, schools, cultural activities, travel, and so on. As an example, the United States’ confusing Social Security rules can lead to reductions or even a complete loss of benefits for disabled people when they marry. Health insurance can vanish, too. Stigma and ignorance make the world an unjust place, too.


#8. Surveillance technology

Concerns about surveillance are growing in the wake of Covid-19 tracking and monitoring technology. Ethical issues already existed in the use of crime prevention technologies, but the pandemic gave governments a reason to use the tech for another purpose. Employee monitoring, QR codes, facial recognition, drones, data collection, and more can easily start threatening human rights. Surveillance technology everyone. It’s a human rights topic that deserves attention.


#9. Transgender rights

Human rights for trans people were never protected that well, but there’s been a global rollback in recent years. 96 countries allow trans people to legally change their gender, but 71 have what ILGA World (a worldwide federation of organizations campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights) calls prohibitive requirements. There’s also been a weakening of discrimination laws, making the world a more dangerous place for trans people.


#10. Disinformation and misinformation

Propaganda and conspiracy theories have always existed, but technology facilitates the lightning-speed spread of false information. Disinformation is deliberate, but accidentally sharing false information – misinformation – can be just as harmful. False information is a human right issue because it threatens rights like the right to free and fair elections, the right to health, and the right to freedom from discrimination. The global surge of false information regarding Covid-19 is a clear example of the real-world effects. Conspiracy theories about the virus’ origins and false claims about cures and vaccines have led to violence and death.


About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.