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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. While many Skoll social entrepreneurs advance human rights on some level, those that directly address human rights injustices focus on democratic freedoms, gender equality, and labor rights.

Size/Magnitude of Problem

Respect and acknowledgement of human rights is the foundation of all major human development indicators. Discrimination, exclusion, abuse of power, and poor rule of law contribute to the structural causes of poverty; corruption and low public investment result from these abuses.iv

  • 10th consecutive year of declining democracy and human rights worldwide. v
  • 2.6 billion people, or 36% of the global population, live in countries considered to be “not free,” with significantly constrained civil
  • 35% of women globally have been raped or physically abused,vii with a third (64 million) married before the age of 18.viii
  • In 2016, 45.8 million people were estimated to be in some form of modern slavery in 167 countries.ix
Desired Equilibrium

Every individual is born into a society where the government diligently and justly protects against persecution based on sex, ethnicity, religious beliefs or political affiliations. All individuals are granted equal opportunity to participate democratically in political systems and to make their voices heard without fear of retribution.

Ways Skoll social entrepreneurs are addressing the issue:
  • Using strategic surveillance and transparency to demand abuser accountability and ensure effective rule of law (Global Witness, Verite, Videre, WITNESS)
  • Advocating for new policy reforms that better protect human rights (Breakthrough, Crisis Action, Equal Justice Initiative, Global Witness, Girls Not Brides, GoodWeave)
  • Equipping local groups and citizens with the necessary skills, knowledge and resources to ensure human rights protection (Benetech, Search for Common Ground, Tostan, Videre, WITNESS)
  • Mobilizing citizens at scale  through human rights campaigns and media, influencing decision-makers at all levels of society (Breakthrough, Crisis Action, Global Witness)
  • Protecting the rights of vulnerable groups and reversing abuses through social reintegration and connection to valuable services (Basic Needs, Equal Justice Initiative, GoodWeave, Namati, Nidan, Visayan Forum Foundation)

i SPI Indicators for Personal Rights include: Political rights, Freedom of speech, Freedom of assembly/association, Freedom of movement, and Private property rights.
ii SPI Indicators for Personal Freedom and Choice include: Freedom over life choices, Freedom of religion, Early marriage, Satisfied demands for contraception, and Corruption.
iii SPI Indicators for Tolerance and Inclusion include: Tolerance for immigrants, Tolerance for homosexuals, Discrimination and violence against minorities, Religious tolerance, and Community Safety Net.
iv International Monetary Fund, "Governance, Corruption and Economic Performance", (link)
v Freedom House, "Freedom in the World 2016" (link)
vi Freedom House, "Freedom in the World 2016" (link)
vii World Health Organization, "Violence Against Women" (link)
viii International Center for Research on Women, "Facts and Figures" (link)
ix 2016 Global Slavery Index (link).

Critical Geographies
Personal Rights1

As defined by SPI (<10/100 score)
Cuba, Central African Republic, Uzbekistan, China, Myanmar, Iran, Yemen, Russia, Vietnam, Sudan, Saudi Arabia

Personal Freedom and Choice2

As defined by SPI (<40/100 score)
Chad, Angola, Sudan, Guinea, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Haiti

Tolerance and Inclusion3

As defined by SPI (<30/100 score)
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Yemen, India, Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Sudan, Egypt, Myanmar, Indonesia