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Bangkok, 10 December 2015 - Our Rights, an Asia-Pacific wide campaign to put a human face on key rights issues is being launched by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to mark Human Rights Day today.

Over the next year, UNFPA's 23 offices in the region will work with a range of partners to help give people a voice on what human rights mean for them and what they expect from their communities and countries, through images, video, personal narratives and other forms of creative expression, conveyed via social media and the hashtag #OurRights.

"The Our Rights campaign invites everyone, including women, girls and young people, especially those in communities that have traditionally been excluded, such as indigenous people, migrants, disabled people, the LGBTI community and the poor, to share their stories about what it really means to be born free and equal in dignity and in rights," said Yoriko Yasukawa, UNFPA's Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

"We'll help amplify people's voices, stories and views about sexual and reproductive health and rights, freedom from gender-based violence, and the leadership of young people. It's their vision that will inform, educate and empower communities - and support governments to meet their human rights commitments," Yasukawa said.

The world marks Human Rights Day every 10 December, honouring the day in 1948 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"Human rights are central to everything we do at the UN. Now, more than ever, they are vital as we work together to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, that seeks to ensure a life of dignity for all people, in all spheres of life - the economic, the social, the environmental," noted Yasukawa.

"Especially at this moment when the news is dominated by acts and words of fear and intolerance, it is important that people of different beliefs and cultures come together," she added. "Human rights are not only about individual entitlements and freedoms but also about living together in a community, respecting and celebrating our differences."

World leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN on 25 September. They aim to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. The SDGs build on the period of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight anti-poverty targets agreed to in 2000 that conclude this year.

Major progress has been made across the region under the MDGs. In 1990, over 50% of people lived in extreme poverty. In 2011, it was down to 18%. The proportion of women dying from causes related to pregnancy and birth dropped from 246 per 100,000 to 124 between 2000 and 2013.

But there is still much to do. 772 million people still live in extreme poverty, and over 90,000 women across the region die each year from causes related to pregnancy and birth. Five of the top 10 countries for maternal deaths are in Asia-Pacific.

"The new SDGs and the rights they enshrine could be embodied in a girl, now ten years old, becoming the woman she wants to be at the age of 25 in 2030," said Julia Cabassi, UNFPA's Regional Advisor on HIV & Human Rights for Asia and the Pacific.

"That means ensuring her right to grow up free and healthy, her right to get a good education in a safe school that teaches her to value and believe in herself - and to chase her dreams."

"It also means her right to get access to decent work, her right to be safe from violence. It means her right to marry who she chooses, when she chooses, and have as many, or as few children as she wants - in safe, healthy conditions," Cabassi said.

"She would also contribute to changing the way we all live so we are more in harmony with nature. And finally, she would, as is her right, enjoy old age with dignity."

"We need to make changes that will turn this vision into reality," concluded Yasukawa. "And the first step is to talk about what needs to be changed, giving a voice to those who are normally not heard."