Voices for Human Rights: Anisa Jama, National Youth Organizer

As a young, black, Muslim woman, I understand the unique ways that systems of oppression work to negatively impact the lives of many. I am also the daughter of immigrants who had escaped civil unrest in a war-torn country. It is through this lens that I have cultivated a deep passion for social equity, advocacy and human rights activism. During my years of undergraduate study, I earned my B.A. in Criminology and Human Rights and although I wanted to be a voice for those who have routinely been silenced, I felt that I did not have a tangible means of doing so. I had the knowledge but not the tools for creating real, meaningful change.

I later learned about Amnesty International’s work during my time as a fundraiser. Here, I was able to get a glimpse into some of the urgent campaigns affecting many marginalized and disenfranchised communities. When I heard about the launch of the National Organizers program in the fall of 2018, I knew that I wanted to get involved. This was the beginning of actualizing my role as a global citizen through activism and advocacy. Since then, I have participated in numerous initiatives including those related to women’s rights, anti-racism, prisoners of conscience, Indigenous rights and climate change.

I am most proud of the letter writing actions that I have organized and participated in. The annual Write for Rights events in particular, have always been inspiring and empowering for me as an organizer. It is the reason why I have centered most of my activism around letter writing. In the past, I mobilized groups of volunteers to sign petitions and call on governments to take a stand against the abuse of Indigenous women including those defending the Amazon rainforest and those who have undergone forced sterilization here in Canada. More recently, I helped organize an international anti-Black racism letter writing online event which was in response to the heinous murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Regis Korchinski-Paquet. I appreciate that along with sending letters, we are encouraged to write cards in solidarity with those impacted by human rights abuses. These cards are then mailed directly to them as a reminder that they have not been forgotten and that we are actively fighting for their rights and freedoms.

The National Organizers program is a unique one which has shown me that I can make a difference both locally and abroad, regardless of my age or any other factors. It has also taught me the power of collective activism through our voices and actions.