Module 2 – Women’s rights and change: giving human rights a good name
This is the Open Resources Area. If you are a woman working in the women’s sector on women-only project please sign-in to the member’s area.

What you will learn

In this module you will learn more about human rights: what these rights are and how they can be used to challenge abuse or injustice; categories of rights – absolute, qualified and limited; a history of human rights from the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the European Convention on Human Rights to the UK Human Rights Act. You can find out more about the public sector and human rights; and how to use human rights to mount a challenge, with a case study as an example.

What are Human Rights?


Human rights are held by all persons equally and universally because they are human beings. If a Government or dictatorship decides only certain groups are entitled to human rights, it means deciding unentitled groups are not part of the same human family, and so do not have the same rights. In ensuring universal human rights it also means that everyone accepts the responsibility not to infringe on the rights of others.
Human rights underpin a large part of day to day activity. For example your ability to participate in public life is directly affected by your right of freedom of expression.
Human rights are basic standards for a life of dignity. To violate someone’s human rights is to treat that person as less than a human being. To advocate human rights is to demand that the human dignity of all people be respected.

You can use human rights to challenge unfairness, discrimination or poor treatment, and ensure that authorities make their policies and practices fairer. All those who work in public authorities, whether devising policy or procedures or delivering services directly to the public, must act in a way that’s compatible with the Human Rights Act 1998. This means that you can challenge treatment from health providers, local authorities, educational providers, the Government and other public bodies if you feel this infringes your or others human rights.