Please read and share this speech by a brave and inspiring young human rights defender:

“My name is Maha Khalifa, and I am honored to be standing here tonight on behalf of Zayed University students and as a representative of the new generation of human rights advocates in the UAE.  I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all, for being present at this closing ceremony and witnessing this very special moment.

It is difficult to do justice to the experience and knowledge this incredibly eye-opening trip has provided us with in a speech, but here goes. When I first heard of the opportunity to take part in this course my imagination only let me set my expectations so high, and I can whole-heartedly say that this experience has by far surpassed anything I could have imagined. Sitting in the lectures that were provided for us during this course, has opened our eyes to facts that we would never have been able to comprehend otherwise.

Learning about the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has taught us a lot about the progress that humankind has made and still continues to make today. In addition we have learned about matters such as human rights violations, the impact that NGO’s can have on decision-making, and organizations like the ICRC. We have learned about their history and how they have helped shaped our human rights today, moreover the difficulties journalists face and how vital their role is in international relations, the international court of justice, and so much more.

As a group of all female students, we are very honored to have been given this opportunity to develop our knowledge and skills, as many women worldwide are not offered equal access to education.

This has taught us not only the weight that these issues carry but also the type of people it requires to tackle them. This experience has led us to realize that we can make a difference in other peoples lives, not only that but it is also our duty as human beings to do so. In the words of the great Martin Luther King “ injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

If I were to be asked of the one thing that I have learnt during my experience here, I would say that it is not to identify as coming from any race, gender, ethnicity or religion, it is to identify as a human being. Thank you”.

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