In 1948 forty-eight United Nation member states established a set of rights to which every human being is inherently entitled – a list including protection from slavery, forced prostitution, gender discrimination and political persecution.

These days, barely five percent of the world’s population is thought to have any knowledge of the once-lauded Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Human Rights Action Center)

Millions of women, particularly in developing nations, continue to fall victim to violence and sex trafficking, clean water is scarce for hundreds of millions, and individuals fighting for political freedoms are still routinely met with imprisonment, torture and even death. (Human Rights Watch 2013 World Report)

Even though most developed nations have instituted laws intended to protect their populations from human rights abuses, millions of people across the globe continue to live under the threat of abuse and discrimination.

While it may seem like an overwhelming issue to tackle, there are still some small but significant ways a volunteer can contribute their time and expertise toward improving the lives of the individuals impacted by human rights violations.

Teaching and Education:

Violence against women, in addition to being a pressing public health issue, is also a clear violation of women’s human rights. However, according the World Health Organization, providing women with the educational resources is one of the best ways to lift them out of poverty, avoid intimate partner violence, and consequently, reduce child mortality and abuse.

There are several volunteer programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America that cater toward women and children’s education, covering everything from teaching English to business and vocational training.

More information can be found through Educating Girls Matters, Love Volunteers and Do Something. Many programs only require that applicants be 18 years of age and high school graduates. Programs that focus on vocational training, however, may require some related work experience.

Female Empowerment:

Education, sexual health and prevention programs, and working in women’s shelters and homes all fall under the category of “empowerment,” since every single one of those projects can help at-risk women achieve a safer and more independent future.

WHO reports 35 percent of women worldwide have been victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence, a statistic that increases drastically in countries with attitudes – legal and social – that are accepting of gender inequality and violence.

In Tanzania, one of the world’s poorest nations that has been plagued by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Cross Cultural Solutions offers several volunteer programs in orphanages, community centers and homeless shelters geared towards aiding local women.

In Asia, where traditional beliefs about gender inequality are still prominent, volunteers can find opportunities to aid victims of domestic violence in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam through UBELONG.

Disabled Care:

Schools, orphanages and even hospitals in the developing world desperately need volunteers to assist mentally and physically disabled adults and children. UNICEF estimates there are 93 million disabled children in the world, a huge proportion of whom are marginalized and even neglected by their communities.

While some health-focused disability programs are aimed toward volunteers with some medical training, many programs simply ask volunteers to feed, bathe and provide care and attention to the disabled. Volunteering Solutions offers multiple opportunities to work with the disabled in Peru, Morocco and southeast Asia.

Refugee Assistance:

Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar – better known as Burma -- have flooded Thailand seeking safety and shelter from their country’s decades-long civil war.

Although the Thai government has established at least nine refugee camps for those impacted, the United Nations Refugee Center reports Burmese refugees often flee their home country’s oppressive regime only to encounter extreme poverty and discrimination in Thailand.

Volunteers are usually requires to provide literacy and sanitation education to the refugees. Many of the displaced Burmese barely complete primary school and, as a result, are forced to work extremely low-wage jobs.

Some volunteer organizations, such as Thai Freedom House, also focus on community education projects aiming to enlighten locals about the hardships experienced by displaced and indigenous peoples.

Asia-Refugee Relief, Shelters, Education, Child Labor:

Although more women than ever have access to education in Asia, the World Bank reports gender inequality is still a cultural norm. Women, therefore, continue to have a weak voice when it comes to politics, domestic violence and economic opportunity.

Some parts of the continent, such as Thailand and Myanmar, are popular destinations for individuals interested in volunteering for refugee assistance and child labor reduction. Volunteers for education are always needed across the continent, particularly in India, Pakistan and southeast Asia.

Africa-Female Empowerment, Healthcare, Disability Care:

NGO’s and other aid organizations have a strong presence in most of Africa, which is in constant need of volunteer assistance. Healthcare volunteers, particularly those working in HIV/AIDS relief and preventive health, are in particular need on the continent, which has been ravaged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

More than two-thirds of the global HIV population, as well as 88 percent of all affected children, live in sub-Saharan Africa alone, according to amfAR. Health care volunteers may be asked to conduct sex health and sanitation classes in women’s shelters, hospitals or basically any public forum.

Sexual education also goes hand-in-hand with female empowerment in developing African nations, where women traditionally have little-to-no access to contraceptive devices.

Latin America- Female Empowerment, Education, Disability Care:

Gender violence remains the leading cause of injury to women in Latin America. One in three women in the region will become a victim of violence in her lifetime, according to the World Bank, a statistic that some countries like Brazil are making serious efforts to reform.

But it’s not all bad news: The surge of women joining the workforce, along with increased female education, has resulted in an estimated 30 percent drop in extreme poverty over the last decade.

Because women are often the head of their households -- which often contain children -- their economic advancement can subsequently lead to reductions in child poverty and neglect. Where women succeed, a community succeeds as well.

Contributed by Ashley Portero

Featured Programs

Human Rights Volunteer Programs

Displaying 16 - 30 of 357 programs
Operation Groundswell
Cultural Immersion & Community Service in Southeast Asia
Multiple Countries
9.56 •16 reviews

You might’ve heard of this region’s 30 cent street pad thai, deep...

ISA (International Studies Abroad)
ISA Service-Learning in Cusco, Peru
Peru
8.5 •6 reviews

Cusco is a city in southeastern Peru, in the Andes Mountains. Cusco is...

ISA (International Studies Abroad)
ISA Service-Learning in Lima, Peru
Peru
8 •5 reviews

Lima, the capital of Peru, is located on the west coast of the Pacific...

ISA (International Studies Abroad)
ISA Service-Learning in Santiago, Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
9.5 •2 reviews

Founded in the late 15th century by Columbus’ expedition, Santiago is...

Love Volunteers
Make a difference in Kenya - From just $259!
Kenya
9.5 •10 reviews

Join Love Volunteers and their local partner organizations to connect...

Operation Groundswell
Exploring Food Justice in Ecuador
Ecuador
9.8 •5 reviews

Ecuador may be the smallest country in South America but boy does it...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Morocco
Morocco
9.78 •18 reviews

Four million people in Morocco live below the poverty line, three...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala
Guatemala
9.65 •20 reviews

Guatemala has been one of the strongest economic performers in Latin...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica
Costa Rica
9.3 •27 reviews

More than 1.1 million Costa Ricans live in poverty - that’s 1 in every...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Peru
Peru
9.63 •16 reviews

Peru has historically been one of the poorest and most unequal...

Love Volunteers
Make a REAL difference in Cambodia - From just $359!
Cambodia
8.43 •7 reviews

Join Love Volunteers and work with their partner NGOs in Cambodia...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Ghana
Ghana
8.81 •16 reviews

Poverty is endemic in Ghana and has devastating effects on children...

ISA (International Studies Abroad)
ISA Service-Learning in Meknes, Morocco
Morocco
8 •1 review

Known as the "Versailles of Morocco," Meknes is home to a beautiful...

163 reviews
The Excellence Center
Volunteer and Learn Arabic In Palestine
Palestine
9.31 •163 reviews

Are you interested in coming to Palestine? Would you like to live with...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Thailand
Thailand
8.75 •8 reviews

Poverty has declined substantially over the last 30 years in Thailand...

What People Are Saying

if you want to get action, help people, and get out of your normal comfort zone I strongly recommend go stay with Hatzalah Colombia! these guys are not for the faith hearted, they work day and night...

Elias

Hola a todos! My name is Andreas, from Denmark. I joined Hatzalah Colombia to learn how to save a life! i work in a big telemarketing office, and many times someone get injured, sometimes bad, and i...

hatzalah team

Volunteering in Germany is the least likely thing I would expect to be doing after 5 months of lockdown due to the coronavirus, but I'm so glad I did. I did conversational English lessons with Syrian...

Sarah receiving her certificate

Related Volunteer Abroad Articles