What is Human Rights Day?

Celebrated on 21 March, Human Rights Day in South Africa commemorates the sacrifices many people had to make for a better future. On this historic day, we’re reminded that all humans should be treated with dignity. So, as a South African, when you do take time off on this day, it’s important to reflect and look back on everything that happened and what we need to remember. Here’s 5 facts why Human Rights Day 2021 is to be celebrated: 

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  – Nelson Mandela

  1. The History Of Human Rights Day

The public holiday pays tribute to the tragic events of the Sharpeville massacre which took place in 1960. On this historical day, police fired shots during a protest against the Pass laws – 69 people lost their lives, while 180 were left wounded. About 7000 people gathered in unison to take back their rights on this iconic day. 

  1. The Day We Celebrate Heroes

Did you know, Human Rights Day is also referred to as Heroes’ Day? On this day, many celebrate the freedom fighters and activist that fought against the apartheid regime.   

  1. A Public Holiday To Remember 

In 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected as the first democratic President, Human Rights Day in South Africa was declared a public holiday on the 21 of March. Established to honour the Sharpeville massacre and celebrate our Constitution, the day has become an important part of the country’s democracy. 

  1. The Bill Of Rights

Human Rights Day spearheaded the institution of the Bill of Rights in the South African constitution, becoming one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. Today, the Bill of Rights is the foundation of the country’s democracy. 

  1. What was Human Rights Day Called Before? 

The historical day is also known as Sharpeville Day remembering everyone who fought for their human rights in 1960. It also honours activists such as Steve Biko and Olive Thambo who fought and died for the rights of people in South Africa. 

Today we celebrate the significant change that has been made in South Africa, but for some the fight is not yet over. “When it comes to the rights of women in South Africa, we still have a long way to go,” says Bronwyn Litkie, the Founder of SA Women Fight Back

To all South Africans, we hope you take the day to reflect on Human Rights Day and think about how you can improve the lives of others. 

Make A Day, Change A Life through our ongoing SweepSouth initiative, making a difference is only one click away – click here

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