What are human rights? They are, in essence, the hopes and dreams of people for a better world. People who hoped, after World War II, that they could create a peaceful planet. Out of that conflict, came the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A noble document that laid out the rights of individual people. We provide a link to the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on this website. I suggest that you read it. The people who created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were very good and smart people. They were also, for the most part, old, white, and male, with a notable exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, who was committed to making human rights a reality. The Universal Declaration was adopted by the members of the United Nations, in 1948. In the text for this class, which is my book entitled, From Outrage to Courage, there is a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, which I would like you to read. I repeat it here. Where, after all, do universal human rights began? In small places close to home. So close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Such other places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity and equal dignity without discrimination. I take a human rights perspective in this class and begin the course with a discussion of human rights because I want us to keep that concept. The concept of justice, at the center of our consideration of women's health issues. We may interested in advocating for girl's education and we could argue that doing that results in a better economic situation for a country, or a reduction in HIV, Aids or infant mortality, for example. A human rights perspective, however, would demand that we also recognize that advocating for girl's education is the fair thing to do. So, too, with violence against women, which also has a development aspect. Violence is costly and in some countries 3% to 4% of the budget is spent on social and health costs of violence against women. Focusing on eliminating violence, however, is not just an economic question, it is also a question of justice. We want to eliminate violence against women, because women have a right to bodily integrity. In this class, I want to focus on justice issues as well as on development issues. We want to continually remind ourselves that we are thinking about individual people, primarily women. So I am emphasize in this class, and particularly in this first session, the importance of rights, on how governments treat their people, and how people treat each other. It took many years for the world to recognize that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, good as it is, did not take into consideration the particular needs of some population groups, such as women, children, indigenous people and disabled people. It was not until 1979, for example, for the United Nations to establish the convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. And almost four years later, to establish a convention on the rights of a child. So, too, with other conventions that deal with other specific populations. Much of the recent interest in human rights has occurred because of activism surrounding the International Conference on Human Rights, which was held in Vienna in 1993. Non governmental organizations and individual activists established, there, that women's rights are human rights. Then came the United Nation's conference on population and development, held in Cairo, in 1994. At that conference, women's rights were emphasized also, especially rights relating to reproductive health and maternal issues. Finally, there was the huge fourth United Nation's conference on women, which was held in Beijing, in 1995. The document that came out of that conference, the Beijing Platform for Action, was both unusual and courageous, encompassing much of what had been laid out in Vienna and Cairo. First, please read chapter one of the text for this course, entitled From Outrage to Courage. At the end of the chapter, as is true as subsequent chapters of the book, are several examples of groups that are addressing the human rights issues that we are focusing on this week. Please read those descriptions, too.