It sounds incredibly cliche, but words really do have the power to change the world. As activists, we sign so many petitions and send so many emails to MPs, but we seldom stop and think about the impact they have, or moreover, the power of a handwritten letter.
This month marked the beginning of Write For Rights, an annual Amnesty International campaign that is currently in its 16th year. Amnesty activists around the world have achieved a lot in the last 15 years through Write for Rights, some of which you can read about here. The idea behind Write for Rights is pretty simple… Amnesty International identifies brave people around the world who are being punished for defending human rights, and people write letters for them; one letter that goes to the authorities that are violating their rights, and another is a solidarity letter that lets the people know that the Amnesty activists around the world are fighting for them.
As many of you my also know, I have been involved with Oxfam’s What She Makes campaign, which calls on big Australian brands to take the crucial next step in creating a fairer fashion industry- committing to paying the women who make our clothes a living wage. In exciting news, retail leader Kmart is predicted to be the first of all the brands the campaign targets, to publicly commit to paying a living wage. I was asked by Oxfam campaigners to lead a group of QLDers to write letters to Kmart’s CEO, pushing him to show leadership and take action for living wages.
Working with both Oxfam and amnesty volunteers, we have been writing heaps of letters to defend human rights and tackle poverty together. The best thing about letter writing is that its a very personal, non-confrontational form of activism, making it great for anyone who is keen to get involved in activism but not really sure how. It doesn’t take much organising to gather a group of friends, get some pens, paper, envelopes, and stamps, and write letters to people who have the power to make big decisions. If you’re keen to get active and take action to defend human rights or tackle poverty, why not start with letter writing!