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Activity "How to influence society?". Image: Group of people discussing.
Foto: by Antenna on Unsplash

How to influence society?

In what ways can we as individuals influence society? How do human rights protect our participating in and influencing society?

Photo: by Antenna on Unsplash

Quick facts

activity topic
Democracy and citizenship
Target audience for the activity
Youth school • Adult education • Organizations and others
Activity duration
Ca 1 hours
Materials: The presentation tool “Mentimeter”. Copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

Activity goals

  • Acquire knowledge about rights, obligations and the civil society.
  • Raise awareness about the importance of participating in society.
Background of the activity
Inspired by activity in the book "Build bridges, not walls" by Lillian Hjorth and Enver Djuliman (Humanist forlag, 2007). This activity is taken from the learning booklet for the exhibition "The new planet" (developed by the Human Rights Academy). Through text, images and interviews with young asylum seekers, the exhibition challenges reflection on important societal values.


The facilitator prepares the question in the Mentimeter – an interactive service where the participants use their mobile phones or notepads to answer by logging in with a code to the website


  • The facilitator asks the following question via the Mentimeter: In what ways can we as individuals participate in and influence society? Clarify what is meant by society (local, national or international?).
  • The participants should be given time to think individually.
  • The answers are presented as a word cloud that the facilitator reviews. If you feel that any important influence channels are missing, they should be added.
  • The facilitator then asks the participants to gather in groups of four or five. Assignment: Find articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that protect the mentioned opportunities we have to influence society (Articles 19, 20, 21 and 27 are highly relevant).
  • The participants talk about the findings in a plenary session.


  1. What does the term civil society mean?
  2. Why is it important to state your opinion about matters you are interested in? Does your opinion have significance?
  3. Are there some groups which have greater challenges than others when it comes to participating in and influencing society? (Suggest minority groups or vulnerable groups in society if the participant does not mention these). What can we do about this?
  4. Is it more challenging for young people to influence society than adults? Why?


  • A society consists of individuals with different opinions, experiences, ages, religions, interests, genders and inclinations. A healthy and inclusive society depends on the entire population – young and old –participating and influencing the decision-makers.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the right to participate in and influence society. It states that everyone has the right to:
    • Freedom of opinion and expression (Article 19)
    • Peaceful assembly and association (Article 20)
    • Take part in the government of their country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (Article 21)
    • Freely participate in the cultural life of the community (Article 27)

Tips to the facilitator

Individual follow-up tasks (lower secondary school):

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 12) states that all children shall be given the opportunity to express their views, and that their views must be taken seriously. Write your input for a debate on why young people should be heard, and the barriers children and young people encounter when they participate and express their views in society. Use the reflections from the group work.
  • Find an example of a child who has had an impact on society. Which influence channels were used? Which results were achieved? Which challenges have they encountered?

(English translation: John Anthony)