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Using digital stories to advocate for human rights

Graphic: People with disabilities outside a temple, Malaysia

NHRIs are increasingly using digital stories to engage the community and advocate for changes that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

National human rights institutions (NHRIs) are increasingly using digital storytelling as a tool to engage the community on pressing human rights issues and to advocate for changes that can make a meaningful difference in people's lives.

To support them in this work, the APF recently provided a small grant to five member institutions – the NHRIs of Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal and Samoa – to undertake a digital storytelling project.


My colleagues and I were so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some incredible storytellers and to see how they overcome all types of barriers in their daily lives. Their stories are truly inspiring!

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Logo Pei Hsi Lee, Promotion & Outreach Division, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia

"Over the years, NHRIs have used stories to explain what rights are, how they are central to our everyday lives and how they help build strong and inclusive communities," Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat, said.

"However, with social media now so dominant, it is vital that NHRIs have the skills to produce engaging digital stories in order to reach out to the community and start those conversations."

APF Communications Expert James Iliffe provided mentoring and technical support when the digital stories were being developed, as well as during the interviewing and editing stages.

The stories will be used by the NHRIs in their outreach and advocacy efforts with the community, government and service providers.

They will be also be published on the APF website and YouTube channel, as well as shared with members of the APF Communications Network on the APF's learning platform.

As part of its 'Friendly Schools' program, Samoa's Office of the Ombudsman/NHRI holds discussions in schools about human rights and how they connect with culture and faith.

The goal of this digital story is to begin a community conversation about children's rights and responsibilities, the foundational role of parents and ensuring that communities place the highest priority on ensuring the well-being of children.


'I want to pray' shows the challenges that people who are deaf, with vision impairments and with mobility impairments can face when practicing their religion.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) will use the digital story as part of its advocacy to promote greater inclusion in worship for the half a million Malaysians registered as having a disability.

The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal has recently conducted an extensive monitoring program of care homes and other services for older people in the country.

This digital story presents the findings of the Commission's study, as well as its recommendations to better promote and protect the rights of older people.


The Office of Ombudsman of Kazakhstan is currently undertaking a major research project on the rights of people held in psychiatric and other facilities.

The goal is to raise awareness of the rights of people with mental health disorders and, in the case of children, learning and other disabilities.

Image credits

  1. People with disabilities outside a temple, Malaysia - Pei Hsi Lee/SUHAKAM