Lucas Rivers is a 2014 UNA-USA Social Good Summit Blogger Fellow. View this post on her blog.
Is connectivity the next big human rights fight of our time? At first glance it may seem foolish to funnel resources and focus our attention on Internet connection rather than eradicating disease or famine. However, the speakers at the 2014 Social Good Summit believe that connectivity may actually be the solution we’ve been eagerly searching for – and they may very well be right.
Human rights are inherent to everyone – blind to the nationality, sex, religion, race, language, or any other status one may have – and allow individuals to simply live a life of dignity. So how does the ability to do a Google search become comparable to one’s freedom from discrimination? Or better yet, when does logging onto Facebook become synonymous with having access to clean drinking water?
Let’s be clear – connectivity is not limited to one’s access to social media or even the Internet. While those are equally important, we must also include connectivity in its simplest form – holding a mobile phone in your hand. Yes, connectivity is as basic as having the ability to receive a text message.
We see this working in Bangladesh and South Africa through Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) – a group that works towards the Millennium Development Goal of diminishing the rate of infant death by sending childcare tips and suggestions via SMS. And UNICEF, through their RapidPro program, is taking advantage of the immense power of mobile phones to help prevent the spread of disease and reunite families across Africa.
And while these are projects that need to be recognized in progressing our society toward a better world, it may not truly answer the question of why connectivity should be considered a human right.
It’s simple – the ability to connect could potentially be the answer to all human rights issues.
No longer will individuals need to wait to receive resources or materials from a group or government agency. Internet allows information to be at the fingertips of the masses with a simple click of the button. It helps provide answers and educate while simultaneously giving access to knowledge to allow individuals to find solutions and solve their own problems. It helps provide a voice for those who previously didn’t have one and a forum where their opinions can be heard and respected.
The Internet is not, by any means, solving the ills of the world. But, it is bringing us closer together to solve world hunger, fight gender inequality, decrease infant deaths, promote LGBTQIA equality, eradicate infectious disease, and work towards a better world by the year 2030. It’s time we stress the importance of connectivity as a human right. After all, it may be the key to unlocking the answers to many of our world’s misfortunes.