By María Paula Aguilar Arguedas - International Relations degree student
People were used to living in a world where things were settled; in one where when a change was wanted, war was pursued as the solution. Everyone was used to not having a word in change, and even felt comfortable with expecting the high leads on the government to make decisions for them. Until that comfort was not enough, and social movements arose looking for change.... and achieving them. Now people are no longer quiet and are now part of the voices that move the world. So, what roles do social movements fulfill in the XXI Century? I will say a lead one.
With movements that fight for the rights of minorities such as LGBTI rights, women's equity, all race's rights, children's education, and so on; and with many others pursuing solutions for global issues, such as climate change and world peace, the public is now taking a big part in the decision making and world-shaping today. This is clearly seen with facts, such as the ones presented by Hutt (2018):
''Transgender people will no longer be considered mentally ill (...) first year in which same-sex couples could marry in Australia (...) the European Court of Justice granted same-sex spouses of EU citizens the same residency rights as heterosexual spouses (...) [and] same-sex-marriage is now legal in 26 countries''.
Along with others like the equal rights and freedom that black people now enjoy in places like the United States (and now in many other countries), where before the Civil Rights Movement (and many other social movements that keep on pursuing all race’s equity) it seemed impossible and really far (History editors, 2009). And more so shown with agreements such as The Paris Agreement, in which ''Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future'' (United Nations, 2015). This, I believe, would not have been possible without the enormous amount of people that created movements, the many that changed their lifestyles, and the tons that jumped on the streets to fight for what they believe in. Their voices changed high-country-leads perspective and actions, and not the other way around, as it used to be done.
Subsequently, many questions may arise, such as: If there is so much influence made by social movements, why are not all the countries hearing their citizens and moving toward the same change? And it is absolutely right to ask these questions and to be annoyed by the answers that show that many governors, even knowing their citizens' will, do not change their views. But it will also be unfair to believe that because of the choices of some, the voices of many are not heard. Because, as it was shown before, they are, and they will continue to be heard.
In conclusion, social movements have grown a lot this last century, and so have their effects. And now, luckily, we live in a world where our voices are heard and where we can actually influence change. We have already made so many great choices and manifested many of our rights. But, still, there is so much more to be done, and keeping quiet in a moment when we can scream will be ungrateful and sad. So, I encourage all of us to be part of what moves towards what we believe, and to make these changes for ourselves. Let's not keep quiet, let's scream to be heard.