I still remember that day about a year ago when the Communication Manager from the Martin Ennals Foundation called me to tell me that I was hired for the internship.
Somehow, changed my life. I did not know a lot about human rights, grown up in the human rights world capital, Geneva.
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During my internship at the M, I had the opportunity to meet incredible human rights defendersmade me realise that I was living in a privileged country. I never realised that there were so many human rights violations in the world.
My internship: a crucial insight into the world of human rights – and its importance
The Mhonours human rights defenders around the world once a year by rewarding them with the Martin Ennals Award. This Award is the Nobel Prize for uman rights. The Jury is composed of ten of the world’s leading human rights organisations: Human Rights Watch, FIDH, Huridocs, Amnesty International, Brot für die Welt, ISHR, World Organization Against Torture, International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights First and Front Line Defenders. The Jury nominates three human rights defenders in November and later selects the Laureate from thefinalistsannounced during the ceremony
hired as a communication and event management intern for six months(See article on Nexstep, one of Global Geneva’s ongoing Breaking In series on internships). My mission was to support the communication manager in her tasks community management related activitiesthe Foundation’s website and social media as well as increas the visibility of the Finalists promote the Award managing media relations, support the production of press releaseand organizing the press conference
had the opportunity help with the 2020 ceremony. My tasks managing the registrations, the production of the the making of slides with the names of the speakers, printing. Of course, the closer we got to the ceremony, the more (See message by Cambodian 2012 Laureate Luon Sovath to young people on the power of the media to highlight human rights concerns)
he Martin Ennals Award takes place in Geneva February. The Finalists are usually present at the ceremony sometimes not possible as some of them are in prison or subject to travel bans. This year, luckily, all were able to attend. Huda Al-Sarari, a human rights lawyer who has been investigating the secret prisons network of her countryNorma Ledezma of Mexico, who has dedicated herself to seeking justice for the families and victims of feminicidesher own daughter a victim of this scourgeSizani Ngubane from South Africa, who has spent her life promoting gender equality and fighting for women’s indigenous rights.
The Martin Ennals Award: helping to highlight human rights awareness
For the first time in almost 30 years of the Award’s existence, the nominated finalists were women. A few days before the ceremony, I had the chance to meet them. It was such an enriching experience for someone like me who barely knew anything about human rights just a few months before. Having the opportunity to discuss with each of them, to learn more about their struggle, their concerns and their dreams for the future was incredible. I still sometimes talk to some of them today via e-mail or WhatsApp.
The Jury to select Huda Al-Sarari as the Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award. On 19 February, honour
ceremony, we barely had time to our post-event reports before Covid-19 arrived. Nevertheless, we still managed to organise ourselves effective communication for the Foundation and Finalists by working from home.
rethink the way we workwell. We organised video conferences between us twice a week in order to divide up the tasks and to discuss such as a former Finalist released from prison, or arrestedshould we do?
Due to Covid-19, I had the chance to extend my contract by four months. It was a great opportunity as the job market was frozen because of the pandemic. I had never thought about working in human rights before this amazing experience, but after a ten months internship in this field, I can now say that I am ready to consider it seriously.
Working in human rights is intense and can be stressful because you have few resources and a lot of work to do. However, the rewards are worth it! When a human rights defender is released from prison as a result of the communication campaign you have helped develop, you know that your work has been useful. Moreover, after working with the M, I feel ready to start my professional life.
I can only recommend to young people to live an experience like this, even if they don’t know about human rights at first.
Josephine, but also to include human rights awareness as part of any new job, whether in the private or public sector.