The Importance of Active Citizenship
Rebecca and Charles are a couple living in the UK. They wanted to celebrate their relationship and provide protection to their family by legally binding their partnership. But, the most traditional route—marriage—did not appeal to them. They desired a civil partnership, a status originally procured for same-sex couples. They felt that it was an injustice that this kind of partnership was not accessible to everyone, and so they campaigned for civil partnerships for all.
Concerned about the growing climate crisis, Ariana wished to draw attention to the issue and get the government to recognise it – by declaring a national climate emergency. Even though she was just one person, she called for support from others and began campaigning to achieve her goal.
A Sudanese teen, Noura Hussein, stabbed and killed her husband in self-defence after he raped her. She was forced to marry against her will, and also refused to consummate the marriage. She was sentenced to death by hanging. Enraged onlookers from around the world called for her execution to be overturned, repulsed by the sexist treatment and determined to get at least a sliver of justice.
What happened to all of these causes? They ALL succeeded. Civil partnerships will become legal for all on the 31st of December this year, and Rebecca and Charles have already registered – they will finally get what they’ve always wanted, five years after the campaign kicked off. Ariana, amongst the combined pressure and support from people across the UK, succeeded in her goal to get the government to declare a national climate emergency. History was made on the 1st of May 2019. And as for Noura, her death sentence was successfully overturned – instead, she was sentenced to 5 years in prison, and is reportedly planning on studying law at university which she would have never been able to do if she had had her life cut short as a result of misogynistic laws.
All of these causes for good succeeded because ordinary citizens around the world came together and, by employing strength in numbers, they changed the world for the better.
Before I even came to Cyprus I knew it was one of my biggest goals to get involved with the community in any way possible. Outside of our work at the youth centre, I’ve got involved with an organisation called 300,000 Trees in Nicosia. The name is pretty self-explanatory – no matter how long it takes, we will continue planting trees to continue the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and the prevention of the desertification of Cyprus. Recently I went to my first tree planting event with 300kTiN, and what I saw was a beacon of hope. In the face of our environment crisis, getting the community engaged is integral to our success. It was our objective to plant 150 trees in Πάρκο Ακαδημίας (Akadimias Park), and I had hoped to plant at least 2 or 3. But there were SO many people there that we were done lightning fast, and I only had the opportunity to plant one. That tree now stands proud amongst many others, a symbol of our cooperation.
Together, we can make change. So, how can you get involved?
Facebook is a great way to find events in your area. It’s how I found out about many of the events I’ve attended. I also recommend just talking to people in your city and making connections. Go to your favourite small, local coffee shop and befriend the owner – who knows what they’re hiding inside their head!