Samstag, Oktober 06, 2007


all different - all equal

On Thursday 29 June 2006 at 12:30 I was standing in the Hemicycle, the room for the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe and we were opening the “all different- all equal” campaign – for diversity, human rights and participation. The room was almost empty. Today I am proud of the broad range of activities and projects that took place, and the full room of people; but I am also aware that we cannot fold our arms; we still have a lot to do.

It is widely common that politicians and media are often more concerned with demonising people that are different, whilst many decision makers are rather reflecting fears of citizens then offering solutions – it is us that have to cling on long held visions of Human Rights and Democracy. The political culture of mistrust and fears, protecting the own wealth rather then improving the collective well-being must be bypassed if we want to improve everyone’s Rights – not only legally but also culturally.

This will not be possible if we are all just a little bit nicer and if we just like each other a little bit more. Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Islamophobia are still like other form of discrimination not abstract but is a sad and daily reality. The police officer who waits a little longer before he interferes in racist bashing, the teacher who tolerates homophobic bullying, the mother that is not confident in her daughter reaching beyond the glass ceiling which stopped herself as well as the Muslima that prefers to cover herself as any other role models seem unrealistic to her.

Increasing awareness of teachers, police officers, health and care workers or public administration and youth workers to name but a few is indispensable to increasing opportunities for all. As well as we need to liaise with public bodies beyond youth such as justice and home affairs, employment, infrastructure and many more. We must address everyone living in a given Region, many governments only reach out to their own citizens which will be to the detriment of the society as a whole

It is unfortunately the case that many people seem to be stuck in a lifetime of disadvantage; the problems they face are multiple, entrenched and often passed down across generations. To break such enduring cycles of adversity, urgent action is continuously needed, allowing people to realise their aspirations and potential. Such action implies the genuine extension of opportunities to the most marginalised in society, to enable them to exercise the power that the rest of society takes for granted; for youth organisations, this means reaching out to oppressed youth and making sure they are provided the space to speak for themselves, are listened to, and are heard.

Youth organisations as well as public authorities must be conscious of the risk of reproducing structures of exclusion, and serving as the hothouse for elites. In seeking to demonstrate that we are the leaders of today, we must embody the diversity of our constituencies, recognising their heterogeneous needs, and duly articulating them. For youth organisations, reaching out goes beyond quota systems, political correctness, or ill-thought out idealism; reaching out means providing excluded youth with opportunities for participation, and access to those opportunities. This signifies a true acceptance of the agency of young people to make decisions and act on their own behalf no matter where they stand in life right now.

“Participation and active citizenship is about having the right, the means, the space, the opportunity and, where necessary, the support to participate in and influence decisions and engage in actions and activities so as to contribute to building a better society,” this is a quote of the preamble to the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life; and some simply need more support than others, as they have a different starting point for their participation in society.

Last week I was in Cyprus and a Greek Cypriot friend of mine said - “this is what is nice in politics – things are changing!” She did not say this because she is ignorant or naïve and would not recognise the current dead lock in the conflict in Cyprus, she said it because she is a smart advocate for a peaceful solution of the problem and she has seen slow but steady progress on a socio-cultural level and will continue to work for further progress – she is persistent.

The “all different – all equal” campaign is a good beginning for achieving a better Europe in a better world, but it is only the end of the beginning.
So I ask you:

Be persistent – be the change you want to see!

So it is over? Congratulations! I think you realise that this campaign was and is a success and you have done a great job while making it work.

Big hug!
i like your speeches...clear and reality oriented...a bit touching as well... good mix! keep on!
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