Why people power is important for social change

A people-powered movement is about everyday people taking action to challenge injustice and demand dignity, freedom and equality for all.

Our human rights are most at risk when people are stripped of their agency, their power, and their solidarity. People are strongest and have the greatest impact when they stand together.

Here are a few social change movements powered by the people.

#MeToo movement

American activist Tarana Burke sparked the Me Too movement in 2006. She wanted to break the silence surrounding sexual assault, rape and harassment, and empower women through empathy and strength in numbers.

In 2017 the ‘Me Too’ hashtag went viral in connection to Harvey Weinstein. The movement has grown to include both men and women of all colours and ages, and aims to support marginalised people and communities all over the world.

Learn more about Amnesty’s work on protecting women’s rights.

Youths protesting to demand government justice for victims of rape and sexual assault under the #MeToo movement in Nepal

Schools Strike for Climate

One girl with a protest sign outside Sweden’s parliament every Friday inspired a worldwide movement in less than one year. The Schools Strike movement (also known as Fridays for Future) wants politicians to act now on the climate crisis.

Greta Thunberg and the Schools Strike movement dominated headlines in September 2019, when around 6 million people attended their climate protests.

“You are never too small to make a difference.”

Greta Thunberg

Learn more about Amnesty’s work on climate justice and help us protect vulnerable communities.

Black Lives Matter

Although it started in the US by fighting for justice for George Floyd, Black Lives Matter is now a global human rights movement. It campaigns to end violence and systemic racism towards Black people and other people of colour.

In Australia, Black Lives Matter has become synonymous with the 434 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have died in police custody since the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Here’s some ways you can support Black Lives Matter in Australia.

Learn more about Amnesty’s work on anti-racism movements.

Black lives matter rally
Black Lives Matter Sydney © Getty-06-2020

Indigenous land rights movement

The struggle for Indigenous land rights spanned decades. In 1963, the Yolngu people from Yirrkala in Arnhem Land presented parliament with the Yirrkala bark petitions, protesting to have their land and their rights returned.

A few years later Gurindji man Vincent Lingiari led 200 stockmen on the famous ‘Wave Hill Walk-Off’ for fair pay and decent working conditions. It soon sparked the Gurindji people to demand the return of their lands. Torres Strait Islander man Eddie Mabo also played an important role. His campaign for land rights led to a High Court case that eventually overturned the lie of terra nullius.

“We want to live on our land, our way.”

Vincent Lingiari

Learn more about Amnesty’s work on indigenous justice.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International’s people-powered movement is founded on the work of passionate volunteers and activists from all around the country.

In 1961, two Portuguese students were jailed for raising a toast to freedom. In response, British lawyer Peter Benenson decided to collect and distribute information about ‘prisoners of conscience’ – people imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their political views or religious orientation. He gave life to the vision of collective action that defines our work today.

Now, Amnesty is a global, grassroots human rights movement of over 10 million people courageous people, persistently standing up, speaking out, and challenging injustice. By building people power we can apply increasing pressure on gatekeepers to respect international law. This empowerment is the core of who we are and how we make change — people power is central our work.

Through decades of human rights wins, we’ve shown that individual action makes a real difference, and that together we can change our world for the better.

Learn more about our vision, what we do and our human rights campaigns.

2022 Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees in Naarm. © Anneliese Henjak / AIA National Photography Network

People power works – how you can get involved with Amnesty

Together, we have the power to challenge injustice and create real, lasting change.

  • Learn more about how Amnesty works
  • Take action on our current human rights campaigns
  • Join our global movement and work alongside other like-minded people to defend human rights and change people’s lives – register to volunteer
  • Amplify your voice and power the change on the human rights issues you care about. Members help shape our campaign work for years to come – become a member. We offer free Youth Membership for 16 and 17 year olds – become a youth member.
  • Connect with like-minded individuals in your area and be part of the driving force behind our movement- find a local group or event
  • We have the power to make governments change because we’re 100% independent. For the people, by the people. Your donation will support people around the world who are courageously fighting for their freedom, equality and justice – donate to support our work

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 10 million people who take injustice personally. We are campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all – and we can only do it with your support. Act now or learn more about our human rights campaigns.

Want to make headlines?

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