Founder of PDHRE, People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning,
and recipient of the 2003 UN Prize in the field of Human Rights (An award given to five people every five years since 1966. She is one of five Americans to have received it, including: Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Carter, and James Grant. Nelson Mandela is also a recipient.)
Shulamith Koenig is the Founding President of PDHRE, People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning (formerly known as People’s Decade for Human Rights Education), which she founded in 1988 with the goal of creating, in the words of Nelson Mandela, a new political culture based on human rights—and to enable women and men alike to participate in the decisions that determine their lives, and live in community in dignity with one another, moving from charity to dignity guided by the holistic human rights framework.
To that end, Ms. Koenig had worked successfully to have the UN declare a Decade for Human rights educations (1995-2004) and international public policy to enhance these inclusive learning worldwide as an imperative for viable long lasting change throughout all societies.
As a strategy for human, social and economic development, she advocated and facilitated, in more than 60 countries, dialogue and meaningful grassroots discussions to effect societal change through learning about human rights as a way of life, as relevant to people's daily concerns, and enhance critical thinking and systemic analysis within the holistic human rights framework that leads to action for social and economic justice, and invigorates social responsibility.
In 1997, to answer the imperatives of Human Rights Learning for all women, men, youth and children around the world, Shulamith Koenig with the PDHRE International network started developing Human Rights Cities. Twenty Human Rights Cities in four regions—with much to learn from—are in progress thus far.
In 2007 and 2008, Ms. Koenig initiated with the Mission of Benin two United Nations General Assembly resolutions that affirm an International Year of Human Rights Learning. These were co-sponsored by more than 100 countries and adopted without a vote. The Year is set forth to create a global all inclusive process where by community leaders join regionally to design and integrate program that will have their communities consciously internalize human rights as a way of life, and to strengthen democracy as a delivery system for human rights.
For more then 20 years she worked as an industrial engineer. With her husband Jerry, they manufactures of water saving products for irrigation and water systems. She published numerous articles, manuals, and wrote for, and supervised the publications of Passport to Dignity and Women Hold Up the Sky—a comprehensive volume and video series on human rights and women; Human Rights Learning: A People's Report; and “Call For Justice,” a resource packet to empower the work of NGOs at the community level. Most recently she supervised the publication with UN-HABITAT: Human Rights Cities: Civic Engagement for Societal Development. (All publications can be found at: www.pdhre.org )
Throughout her career, she has expanded the definition of human rights—to be understood as a way of life.
Objectives set and action taken by PDHRE under the leadership of Shulamith Koenig:
Š Identifying needs for learning about human rights and democracy in specific countries and regions
Š Developing strategies for reaching various sectors of society with learning programs to strengthen civil society and democracy
Š Developing processes for sharing and evaluating Human Rights Learning methodologies and materials
Š Facilitating the cooperation of community leaders, social justice groups, human rights experts, and the media to establish centers for Human Rights Learning
Š Developing programs and manuals for diverse communities
Š Developing and enhancing the pedagogy of Human Rights Learning for social transformation in communities
Š Identifying causes vs. symptoms—re transforming the patriarchal order to a human rights system through Human Rights Learning
Š Promoting the holistic vision and practical mission of human rights as a way of life and towards sustainable and human development.