The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a significant achievement in human history. Drafted by representatives with diverse legal, social, and cultural backgrounds from around the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations in Paris in December 1948. It created a common standard for people and nations and put forth the fundamental rights to be universally protected—it has been translated into over 500 languages.
As an international human rights attorney educated at University of California-Hastings College of the Law, I officially propose the “Universal Declaration of Women’s Rights” (UDWR) to be adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The creation of this new Declaration was inspired by several women including: Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, and Ani Difranco.
Malala Yousafzai is a Nobel Prize laureate who advocates for educational opportunities for women and girls. Michelle Obama is former First Lady of the United States and author of the best-selling book, “Becoming.” Melinda Gates, a compassionate philanthropist, is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Angelina Jolie, an award-winning actress, is an advocate for human rights and equality. Oprah Winfrey, founder of Harpo Productions, is founder of a renown school for girls in South Africa.
This new declaration is also inspired by singer and poet, Ani Difranco, who is a feminist icon and founder of Righteous Babe record company. After graduating from law school, I listened to Difranco’s songs and poems daily. In particularly, I was inspired by her poem titled “The Slant” which describes women and girls overcoming “fear of men” to develop “strengthens that you still haven’t seen”.
In honor of women and girls everywhere and to establish and defend the rights of women, I hereby put forth this proposed Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Women’s Rights:
“Whereas recognition and protection of the inherent dignity and equality and inalienable rights of all women and girls is the foundation of freedom, equality, justice, and peace in the world,”
“Whereas disregard of the rights of women and girls has resulted in grotesque acts which have outraged the conscience of humankind, and the advent of a world in which all human beings shall be empowered with freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and poverty has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of humanity,”
“Whereas it is essential, if women and girls are to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that women’s rights shall be protected by the rule of law,”
“Whereas women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights,”
“Whereas the peoples of the United Nations and the peoples of the world have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental women’s rights, in the protection of the dignity and worth of women and girls, with equal standing with men and boys, and have determined to promote social, economic, and political progress and better standards of life for women and girls in the larger freedom,”
“Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,”
“Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims this UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS as a common and universal standard of achievement and empowerment of all women and girls in all nations, to the end that every woman and girl and every institution of society, keep this Declaration constantly in force, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures; local, national, and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the people of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”
“Therefore, THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims the rights of women and girls will be universally protected, and that all women and girls are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
“As author and adapter of this UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS, I encourage all attorneys, law professors, and judges, law schools, legal institutions, bar associations, legal, political, social, economic, and religious institutions to disseminate this Declaration and promote its adoption by the United Nations. Women and girls around the world deserve to be empowered with equal rights and fundamental freedom.”
–Barack Obama Mandela, Esq.