In order for young people to work in the defence of human rights and towards a deeper understanding of human rights issues, they need a knowledge and understanding of certain issues, and certain key skills. They also need to develop and practice appropriate attitudes and values.

In terms of knowledge, young people need to develop an understanding of the main concepts and the historical development of human rights, as well as the standards demanded by the main instruments and mechanisms for human rights protection. This means knowing about one’s own rights and the way they interact with other people’s, as well as knowing how to defend human rights.

In terms of skills, young people need to be able to communicate and advocate for human rights in public and private, to be able to assess cases from a human rights standpoint, and to reflect on what constitutes an abuse of human rights. Other important skills include dealing with conflict and learning to transform it in a constructive manner, and participating actively and constructively in the community.

In terms of attitudes and values, young people need to develop motivation and a commitment to the protection of human dignity; empathy and solidarity for others; and a sense of justice and responsibility for their own actions and those of others.

In relation to gender equality and gender-based violence, it is important that young people feel confident and able to address and combat gender inequalities and gender stereotypes, including their own role in perpetuating or combating them, within a human rights framework. Knowledge of human rights instruments specifically concerned with gender equality is also important.49

It is essential that young people have a deeper understanding about how human rights relating to gender equality are based on people’s needs, and why they have to be protected. Young people with no direct experience of gender-based violence may think that the issue is of no concern to them, but from a human rights perspective, such a position is not acceptable. People everywhere have a responsibility to protect the human rights of others, including rights related to gender.

People have different ways of understanding important values, and therefore perceive rights and responsibilities differently. This means that human rights issues, including those which are gender related, are often controversial. Human rights education provides a framework to address and deal with these differences in understanding values and which manifest themselves as conflicts of opinion. Human rights education with young people is also aboutequipping young people with the ability to appreciate different points of view about a question, even if they are not necessarily in agreementand helping them to develop skills to reach mutually agreeable solutions.

This website and its activities are based on an understanding that conflicts of opinion can be used constructively for the learning process, provided that the facilitator feels confident in addressing possible conflicts, and confident about managing diverging opinions in a group. The purpose is not so much that everyone needs to agree with a given result, but rather that the participants are also able to learn from the process of discussion (e.g. by listening to each other, expressing themselves, seeking information, respecting differences of opinion, etc.).

49 Compilation of good practices for more about how to address gender stereotypes in education, including how to promote an education free from gender stereotypes and how to identify ways to implement the measures which are included in the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation on gender mainstreaming in education, Council of Europe 2015.