Amnesty Youth Awards: Campaigning from the classroom

3 November 2014

Amnesty Young Reporter 2013 finalists Genevieve Brown, Zaahid Rahman and Ellie Williams

Genevieve Brown is a 17-year-old pupil at Inverurie Academy. Genevieve was runner up in the 2013 Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year Award (upper secondary category), with her article The uncertain future of female education in Afghanistan.

Here are Genevieve’s thoughts about the process.

I was a runner-up in the 2013 Amnesty International Young Reporter of the Year Awards in the Upper Secondary category.

Of course, while I wrote my competition entry on female education in Afghanistan, I never thought I would be able to say that. This is why I would urge any young person considering participating in this year’s upcoming Amnesty International Youth Awards to do so. It doesn’t matter what talents you feel are required to enter – convey an important message and people will listen.

Choose a topic that means something to you

I decided to enter but had no idea what to write about, so I chose a story in the news which shocked me as the starting point for my research. If the topic you want to inform about is not widely reported, you are generating more publicity for an underreported cause, and that is a powerful thing.

Write about a current issue

When I wrote my article, Malala Yousafzai, a schoolgirl activist in Pakistan advocating the education of girls, had just been shot by the Taliban for her beliefs. This act of desperation terrified me at the time, and still does. I would be nothing without my education, and it is unjust for anyone to go without it because they were born a certain gender.

I discovered that parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan are profoundly affected by Taliban opposition to teaching females. The issue was highlighted by the global media, and I feel proud to be able to say I was involved in a small way.

This assignment was different

I entered the Awards because it is run by Amnesty International and the Guardian, both organisations I respect immensely.

I was introduced to the Awards’ existence in my Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Studies class. I knew that I couldn’t complete this assignment half-heartedly as I confess I had in other homework, because I felt I had to do the best I could for the people I wrote about. I felt anything less would be disrespectful. For this opportunity my school offered me I am very grateful, as it is the reason I am able to write this piece.

Inspired to keep campaigning

My school’s Amnesty International Youth Group is in its second year now, and in this time we have participated in various campaigns, including one on female education in Afghanistan – the cause that started it all. We were even able to attend an Amnesty International Annual General Meeting to observe the workings of the organisation.

As a result of entering the Awards I am now more confident in English. This experience has also taught me that a person can do more to help human rights than donate money to charity – they can write, and they can campaign. An ordinary person can make a difference. Even being more vocal about human rights and causing people to question their prejudice is encouraging positive change in societal attitudes.

 

Amnesty Youth Awards Finalists - Marie-Anne Ventoura for Amnesty International UKThe 2015 Youth Awards are open for entries. The Awards celebrate young people’s talent for human rights reporting, photography, songwriting and performing, campaigning and fundraising. Find out more at www.amnesty.org.uk/youthawards

This guest blog was previously published on the Amnesty UK website at: www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/press-release-me-let-me-go/amnesty-youth-awards-2015-campaigning-classroom

 

Photo credits

Top: Young Reporter 2013 finalists Genevieve Brown, Zaahid Rahman and Ellie Williams – Giovanna Del Sarto for Amnesty International

Bottom: Amnesty Youth Awards Finalists – Marie-Anne Ventoura for Amnesty International UK

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