Defending human rights is a personal call that requires commitment and determination to achieve. Whereas resources are vital in facilitating human rights work, we do not need money to speak out against human rights violations taking place in our sight. Some of the actions are as simple as asking the violator to stop what they are doing and letting them know the repercussions of what they are doing.
According to the UN, “There is no strict definition of human rights defenders because they can be anyone who acts at any moment for any human rights. A human rights defender can be a man, a woman, a lawyer, a student, an NGO’s employee, a doctor or any person from any profession, of all ages, nationalities, religions, etc. A person can also be considered as a human rights defender whether she promotes and protects human rights her whole life, occasionally, or only once”
Due to the advancement of the digital age, HRDs use different advocacy efforts in advancing the human rights course. A group of young HRDs from Kisumu Peer Educators network have resorted in using sports, art and media production in undertaking their human rights work. We did an interview with the Chief Creative Officer, Leakey Ochieng.
For how long have you worked as a human rights defender using art?
My name is Leakey Ochieng, a 28 years old Human Rights Defender, LGBTIQ activist, Artist and Documentary producer. Currently working with Kisumu Peer Educators as Chief Creative Officer. I have been an LGBTIQ activist and HRD for the past six years. I have been doing this through Artistic work and media production through documentation of LGBTIQ stories within western region of Kenya.
Why use sports, media and art in creating awareness on human rights?
The main purpose for using arts and Media as one of the tool is mainly because it depicts the real life stories of persons or the real life happening within our community. The targeted audience can easily relate to the stories through catchy graphics and motion pictures as they are interactive and easy to consume. At Kisumu Peer Educators, our main art and media work is based on real life stories of LGBTIQ persons. The work is done in an effort of creating awareness and to sensitize members of the public on the need to embrace sexual and gender diversity within our society. The work also encourages the community to end the high rate of violations that are attributed by the burden of stigma and discrimination towards SGM persons due to harsh cultural and religious beliefs.
What advice would you give other HRDs on innovative ways to address human rights?
First I would love to give out my gratitude for the good work that is being done by HRDs across the country on the thirst of protecting fundamental values of Human rights that is entitled to every human being, not forgetting young HRDs who have also contributed greatly to the protection of human rights.
My advice to fellow HRDs is for us to archive the work we do. There is need for us to use inclusiveness approach to our work as this will create a platform of bringing everybody on board. Providing a platform creates an enabling environment for dialogue as well as understanding were the gaps exist and create solutions to these problems.
Which recommendations do you have to CSOs on ways to create employment opportunities for young people as agents of change?
I believe the future of this nation is on the hands of the youths. I would urge the CSOs to create a platform of employment to the youths in different sectors and not only that but as well as to push or lobby for the policies that can be used to create employment opportunity to our youths.
“Nothing for US without US ,“ Ends Leakey