5 Inspiring Human Rights Activists You Should Know About

Human Rights Day is a global holiday celebrating the 1948 United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that every person on earth is entitled to life, liberty, freedom of speech, privacy, health, and education. While not legally binding, the declaration sent a powerful message to nations across the globe, as individuals and cultures as a whole fought (and continue to fight) for such ideals.

In honor of Human Rights Day, we’ve rounded up a few activists who are doing meaningful work toward ensuring that everyone gets to live in a world where those rights are protected and engrained in everyday life.

Franchesca Ramsey

Franchesca Ramsey

Ramsey is a comedian, activist, and actress who uses her bold voice to speak out about everything from how to combat racism to dismantling pop culture. She hosts MTV Decoded, which breaks down larger issues such as defunding the police, into an Instagram TV segment that helps educate and engage her followers.

Jose Antonio Vargas

José Antonio Vargas


Part of a Pulitzer-Prize-winning team at the Washington Post that worked on ‘My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant,’ Vargas is passionate about immigrants’ rights. His organization, Define American, is focused on changing the narrative of how immigrants are portrayed within television, movies, and elsewhere in the media.

Tarana J. Burke

Tarana J. Burke


Nearly a decade before it went viral, Burke founded the Me Too movement, and she’s spent every moment of her career as an activist speaking out on behalf of women everywhere. The trailblazer currently works as Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity, an organization that helps empower victims of sexual violence.

 

Malala Yousafzai

Malala


Targeted for being outspoken around female educational rights in Pakistan, Yousafzai was shot by a Taliban gunman as she rode a bus back from taking a school exam in 2012. Since then, the brave activist has continued using her voice and fame as a source of inspiration and action. Her organization, The Malala Fund, is committed to helping girls all over the world obtain the free and fair educations they deserve.

Schuyler Bailar


Schuyler Bailar
After starting his transition from female to male during a gap year from Harvard University, Bailar returned to school and became the first openly transgender NCAA Division I swimmer. Now a public speaker on transgender issues, the activist also uses his platform to advocate for body positivity and the normalization of supporting mental health.

These are just a handful of countless activists working tirelessly to shape a more just world by speaking out on behalf of their own experiences, and others whose voices may not be heard. Anyone else we should have included? Let us know so we can learn more about their work! After all, knowledge breeds progress.