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Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity

Clare is a community worker, activist and campaigner for human rights who is deeply invested in exploring how community development practitioners globally are using human rights in practice. She is a founding member and Director of Making Rights Real, a grassroots charity in Scotland, established in 2020, that works alongside marginalised groups using the power of human rights to make economic, social and cultural change.

Clare's interests have always been around connecting the local to the global. A passionate community development practitioner, she has over 20 years experience of working with communities campaigning for equality and social justice. Beginning her career in peace-building work in Hyderabad, India, then in editing works on Palestinian culture whilst living in Jordan, Clare returned to her native Scotland and spent 18 years supporting collaborative efforts to address inequalities in housing, working with tenants’ associations around housing issues.

She co-led the Housing Rights in Practice project, a key action of Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights and the first project of its kind in Scotland using a human rights-based approach in practice. In a bold collaboration by the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Participation and the Practice of Rights in Belfast and Edinburgh Tenants Federation, the four-year project supported residents in Leith, Edinburgh who were experiencing poor housing conditions to use participatory grassroots human rights monitoring to successfully campaign for £2.3million in improvements to their housing. The insights from the Leith campaigns led Clare on a journey to drive change towards the broader application of rights-based approaches in community work in Scotland, while supporting the work of human rights defenders to challenge power.

In 2019 Clare chaired the World Community Development Conference in her home town of Dundee, bringing over 500 delegates from 37 countries together in an eight-day learning and cultural extravaganza, conference and practice exchange exploring “People, Place and Power: The Soul of Community Development”. She was awarded the Global Ambassador Award for Community Development in 2019 from the International Association for Community Development (IACD).

A former member of the Scotland Committee for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Great Britain, Clare serves as European Director on the Board of IACD. As an UNFEARTIE and a Trustee with the Children's Parliament in Scotland, a leading organisation for children's rights, Clare is actively involved in the children's rights movement and remains passionately committed to grassroots community organising around women and children's rights with Fa’side Women and Girls Group, a small voluntary organisation in her own community in East Lothian, Scotland.

Clare holds an MA (Jt Honours) in Geography and Sociology from the University of Aberdeen, and a postgraduate diploma in Community Education from Northern College, University of Dundee.

What gives me hope? Human rights defenders do. Their determination to speak truth to power against structures that marginalise people is inspiring. Their selfless and radical acts of love standing against injustices for all of us, igniting collaborative action for the common weal, very often carried out in the face of oppression and negative power responses against themselves or their families. Their vision of a better future where all our rights are protected helps me believe that change is possible, and that the generosity of the human spirit will prevail.

Clare MacGillivray


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