Life in Color

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

                                               ~Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December is a month of much to celebrate around the world. Among one of the most important global accomplishments of the 20th century was the adoption of the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on December 10, 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Among those responsible for drafting this document, two prominent female figures of many women were instrumental in its success including former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who posthumously received the United Nations Human Rights Prize. Hansa Mehta of India is credited with editing the phrase “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal.” Numerous other women also influenced the social, political and cultural aspects of the document to cover a range of issues including protections for minorities and children, equal rights in marriage, and non-discrimination, all of which continue to be important themes today.

Tips for Observing the Month:

The Dignity & Respect Campaign suggests putting the spirit of the document into action by finding common ground with those who may not have the same background as we do. Take time to reflect on how we share one world with different cultures, faiths, beliefs, and customs.

Here are 3 ways to integrate observe the UDHR this month.

  • Learn about what the document states, and help teach others about why human rights for everyone are so important. The UDHR includes basic rights and fundamental freedoms to which all human beings are entitled. These rights include:
    • Freedom from discrimination
    • The right to equality
    • The right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
  • Spread the word on social media. Not everyone knows about this and the words needs to get around!
  • Go out of your own way to implement the spirit of the document into your life and treat the people around you with respect, kindness, and equality.

Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from different regions worldwide, the UDHR was proclaimed as a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations and serves as a milestone document in the history of human rights. It has been translated into over 500 languages. Interested in reading the document for yourself or sharing it with others? Download the PDF here or click here for the child-friendly version.

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” 

                                                   ~Eleanor Roosevelt


Sharon Schweitzer and Hannah Alvarado co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Continuing her higher education at Texas State University, Hannah is set receive her Bachelor’s Degree in English, in 2019. She is a native Texan with a background in writing, sales, social media marketing and customer service. Hannah aspires to perfect her passion and craft of writing and hopes to one day become a novelist. With all the fantastic opportunities offered at Access to Culture, she is excited to be a new member of the team. Connect with her at Hannah Alvarado.