Youth and Human Rights: Can young people save the world?

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About the Event

Join us for the fourth event in the UBC Human Rights Research & Seminar Series looking at the thematic topic of Challenging the Stereotypes of Human Rights Work.

This event will feature a panel of young leaders within UBC who are approaching human rights challenges in their communities in unique ways. We will explore the tension that arises with need for action on complex global issues and the history of saviourism.  The panel will explore questions around student-led advocacy and reflecting on their own role and work, in relation to human rights. Some key themes include:

  • Moving from concern to action
  • Unique challenges and positionality of youth as human rights advocates 
  • Exploring the dual role of students as learners and leaders 
  • Community building and engaging stakeholders for support and mentorship 



Michelle Stack, Ph.D., is the Academic Director of the Learning Exchange for the University of British Columbia and an associate professor in the Department of Educational Studies. Her central research interest concerns how people, knowledge and institutions are categorized and the influence of these categorizations on our ability to grapple with inequity. Her current work focuses on cooperative colleges and universities as a way to provide opportunities for democratic decision-making, and food, job, and housing security for students, staff and faculty.

She is the author of Global University Ranking and the Mediatization of Higher Education (Palgrave)Global University Rankings and the Politics of Knowledge (Open Access Book, University of Toronto), and “Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: University Rankings or Co-operatives as a Strategy for Developing an Equitable and Resilient Post-Secondary Education Sector?”(International Review of Education) and co-editor with Dr. André Mazawi of Course Syllabi in Faculties of Education: Bodies of Knowledge and their Discontents, International and Comparative Perspectives (Bloomsbury).    

Dr Stack has received the Killam Award for Teaching for her innovative courses focusing on knowledge translation and equity, intergenerational and community engaged learning and commitment to advocating for students.  She is an inaugural Knowledge Exchange and Mobilization Scholar for UBC, and she received the Inaugural Public Humanities Hub award in recognition of her work as a public scholar and her commitment to assisting students and colleagues in expanding scholarly conversations through media engagement.



 Vedanshi Vala is a Bachelor of Science student at the University of British Columbia, and a social entrepreneur. As Co-Founder and Executive Director of BOLT Safety Society, Vedanshi spearheads grassroots efforts to combat sexual violence, domestic abuse, and harassment. This includes the development of BOLT’s digital personal safety platform, their national Safe Buddies service, and Safe Hubs network. Moreover, Vedanshi led her team on-the-ground internationally to deliver workshops to women and girls from rural communities in India in partnership with the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation and the Royal Family of Jaipur. Vedanshi has advocated for safer and equitable communities in impactful Canadian media like CBC, Global News, and CTV News, and has been distinguished nationally as a L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth. This year, Vedanshi will be representing BOLT Safety at United Nations Headquarters in New York at the Commission on the Status of Women.



Ziyaan Virji is an award-winning altruistic change-maker that has found purpose in creating social impact. At only 15, he founded For The Menstruator., a global initiative that aims to create a world of menstrual equity and has empowered over 20,000 people while working in 10 countries around the world. He has previously worked and served on the boards of a range of organizations in thr Climate, Health, Education and Poverty space with his impact reaching over 500,000 people. Ziyaan is currently on a mission to empower other youth leaders through their journeys. He currently hosts the Leaders of Today Podcast that empowers youth through content, resources and opportunities. As part of his next chapter, Ziyaan is currently building his new start up that aims to bridge the gaps between the non-profit and business world!




Niyati Sharma is the Founder and Executive Director of Pratisandhi Foundation, a youth-led non profit organization making sexual and reproductive health stigma-free through educational interventions across India and globally. Having impacted over 50,000 young people through her work with Pratisandhi, Niyati has led workshops, awareness campaigns, and projects in the domains of health, education, and youth leadership. After receiving the Diana Award in 2021, Niyati was invited as a spotlight speaker for the Transforming Education Summit in 2022 at the UN Headquarters. A published author of the book, Under the Carpet: The Sex Ed Everyone Needs, Niyati is currently a multiple scholarship holder at the University of British Columbia where she is completing her degree in International Relations and Psychology.