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Margaret Lokawua Addresses the Closing Plenary

Margaret Lokawua addresses the Closing Plenary at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA. The Closing Plenary was sponsored by The Fetzer Institute.

Greetings and I bring you peace and good gestures from my people. My name is already mentioned [Margaret Lokawua], I come from Uganda. I lead a women’s organization of indigenous women and I’m also currently a member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I recognize the leadership of the Parliament of World’s Religions. I also recognize the distinguished religious persons in your various capacities, Indigenous leaders, ladies and gentlemen. I acknowledge the ancestors of this land in which the gathering has been taking place. I am truly humbled to be part of this great gathering which has brought people of goodwill to come, share, and learn inspirational knowledge from one another. And I also thank the previous speakers for the knowledge they have given us. Their nourishment which we know is going to change each one of us as we return back to our journeys.

I have been fascinated by the theme of this year because it’s a very important aspect of humanity. It gives cognizance to the importance of conscience in human existence. Secondly, it underscores the central law that conscience can play in guaranteeing freedom and protection of human rights. A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom and Human Rights it’s a very powerful appeal. Remember defending human rights is a shared responsibility that requires collective efforts from individuals, communities, and the governments. It is essential to treat every person with dignity and respect and to work and protect these fundamental values. It encourages people to be aware of an advocate for the rights and freedoms of all, irrespective of their background or identity.

Defending freedom and human rights is crucial for creating a just and equitable society, and inherent in all individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or any other character. They include the right life, liberty, security, and pursuit of happiness. Protecting human rights ensures that individuals are treated with dignity and respect allowing them to express their beliefs and opinions freely without fear or persecution. It also guarantees equal opportunities and access to education, health care, and a fair legal system. Freedom on the other hand is a cornerstone of democracy and personal autonomy. It allows people to make choices, other opinions, and participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives. Upholding freedom also fosters creativity, innovation, economic prosperity, and is saluted by many. The theme a call to conscience is mostly associated with the landmark speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. which is the “I Have a Dream” speech where he advocated the need to create a collective consciousness that holds the value of humanity, liberty, and civility. Generally a course to consciousness is the awakening of the inner conscience of mankind to do the right thing in the interest of humanity. It is therefore a reminder of the need for full searching and often considering fairness and justice as the cornerstone of human existence. It emphasizes the personal moral sense of right and wrong which guides our behavior and actions.

A call for conscience emphasizes that as humans our sense of reasons, decisions, actions and interpersonal connectivity, should be guided by the voice of consciousness in our hearts, the wisdom of our faith. Thus we must listen to our hearts, the subconsciousness that speaks the truth in our hearts, and that which evaluates our actions and inactions. It’s a strong statement urging individuals or societies to stand up and protect these fundamental values. It encourages people to be aware of and advocate for the rest of freedom of all individuals. Such a call emphasizes upholding human rights principles promoting, equity non-discrimination, and others.

Brothers and sisters as we embark on our journeys home let us educate ourselves and others by learning more on human rights issues, historical struggles, and ongoing challenges faced by different communities. Share this knowledge with others to raise awareness and foster empathy. Let’s promote inclusivity and diversity, embrace and celebrate diversity, promote towards individuals of different backgrounds. Let us engage in advocacy efforts to push for policy changes that strengthen human rights protection and ensure their enforcement. Let’s stand against discrimination. Let us support gender equality. Let us confront human trafficking. Let us promote freedom of speech. Let us encourage peaceful activism. Let us use social media responsibly.

In conclusion brothers and sisters, let’s remember the foundation of our society rests upon the principal freedom and human rights. These values are not just privileges, they are essential elements that define our humanity. As we stand today defending, these ideas become not just a duty but a moral imperative. Remember that defending human rights is an ongoing journey that requires preservation, empathy, cooperation, every act of compassion, every step towards justice, every voice raised against oppression contributes to the creation of a better world. A call to conscience and defending freedom and human rights therefore indicates that women’s rights should be given priority, it is a known fact that an empowered woman produces an empowered family which translates to empowered communities and by extension as empowering a sustainable world. Therefore it is my submission that women too must be a priority when you are endeavoring with this call. I thank you for listening and may God bless all of us.

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