World Humanitarian day was created to spark communication and education surrounding world issues and inequality. It is also about recognising the achievements of the many human rights activists, working on the front line to advocate for change, equality and to end human suffering.
Here is a snapshot of the lives and achievements of some of the amazing human aid workers who have stood up and demanded change. Their work will forever be remembered.
Aung San Suu Kyi Myanmar
Winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi is an activist hailed for her efforts in rallying against Burma’s brutal dictator U Ne Win. Her devotion to her people and the quest for democracy ended in house arrest. She spent the next 15 years of her life locked away in custody and was finally released in 2010. Since her freedom she held a seat in parliament for the National League for Democracy and in 2015 winning a majority of control and therefore allowing them to select the country’s next president. In 2016 Aung San Suu Kyi was selected as the state counsellor, allowing her to direct the country’s affairs.
Queen Rania of Jordan Jordan
Queen Rania of Jordan has used her royal status to help break down barriers and Arab stereotypes. She is an advocate for women’s rights, education, the environment and health. She also fights against the practice of ‘honor killings’. Queen Rania of Jordon wrote on her website, “At the end of the day you are living your life for the people that you represent. It’s an honor and a privilege to have that chance to make a difference—a qualitative difference in people’s lives—and it’s my responsibility to make the most out of that opportunity.”
Dr. Norman Borlaug United States
Dismayed by the millions of people living without adequate food, Norman Borlaug made it his life’s mission to help feed the hungry. Through his scientific research and development of new technologies he helped improve wheat production and disease resistance in Asia and Latin America. Because of his achievements to prevent hunger, famine and misery around the world, it is said that Dr. Borlaug has “saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived.” His efforts were rewarded in 1970 when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He also was the founder of The World Food Prize.
Oskar Schindler Germany
In the peak of World War II, German industrialist, Oskar Schindler, saved 1200 Jewish lives during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, located in occupied Poland. To protect his Jewish employees from certain death, Schindler bribed nazi officials with gifts and luxury items available on on the black market. By May 1945 –the end of World War II–Schindler had spent his entire fortune on bribes to save his workers from execution.
Malala Yousafzai Pakistan
At the age of 17, Malala became the youngest person to receive a Nobel Prize for her undying efforts to ensure that the rights of children and young people are respected and for girls’ right to education. After blogging for the BBC about her experiences during the Taliban’s growing influence in the region, the terrorist group attempted to assassinate Malala on the bus home from school. Having survived the attack, Malala underwent multiple operations in the UK, where she now resides to continue her schooling and her work for the right of girls to education.
Harriet Tubman United States
Initially born into slavery during the American Civil War, Harriet Tubman escaped to become an armed spy, carrying out thirteen missions to rescue 70 enslaved families and friends. Travelling through the night under extreme secrecy, Tubman rescued enslaved relatives one-by-one. During the Civil War, Tubman guided the raid at Combahee Ferry, liberating over 700 slaves.
In her later years, Tubman dedicated her time to promoting the women’s suffrage cause, in favour of women’s right to vote.