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Mohandas Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt as Social Change Agents

Mohandas Gandhi

Gandhi’s struggle against human social injustices in the society in which he is known to have been a vocal activist started in South Africa in the late 18th century. At the time South Africa, like many other countries in Africa and elsewhere was sharply polarized along with racial backgrounds and many forms of discrimination that would later become apartheid were at its peak (Gandhi, 2007). It was in South Africa that Gandhi experienced firsthand discrimination because of his ethnicity that led to his deep involvement in fighting for his tribesmen’s human rights by agitating for social reforms that were fair and just.

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Throughout his life span of human rights activism, politics, and fight for freedom both in South Africa and India where he was later to return, Gandhi turned out to be an influential leader who adopted what would have been described as unconventional tactics at the time to achieve freedom and social justice among his people. By the time that he was assassinated in 1948, he had achieved much especially for India where he later shifted for most of his later and adult life (Gandhi, 2007).

To this day Gandhi is revered in India and elsewhere for having driven and accomplished several political and social changes that had been considered to be among his greatest while he was alive. Key among them include agitating for social justice in South Africa among Indians and thereby helped bring this injustice to the limelight; in India, he achieved more than his fair share by leading the people in revolting against exploitation of the British colony and payment of taxes (Gandhi, 2007).

As he amassed more clout he was elected as a member of the Indian legislature which he helped to reform and later using the same platform become influential in securing the freedom for the country (Gandhi, 2007).

The greatest social and political achievements that Gandhi gained both in India and South Africa was through the use of what he referred to as ahimsa to mean the use of non-violence or non-resistance and another principle referred to as satyagraha which translates to “devotion to the truth” when fighting the British oppressors in India and white settlers in South Africa (Gandhi, 2007).

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt also is known as Anna is mostly known for her accomplishments in fighting for human rights not only in the United States where she was born but even worldwide. Eleanor was born at a time when America was going through revolution changes and the state of human rights across the continent has remained unaddressed for hundreds of years.

As luck would have it she happened to be the first lady of the US for more than ten years starting from 1933 and was therefore in a strategic position to achieve the impossible task of addressing the human rights issues that were prevalent in the United States and which had by then almost become unnoticeable (Beasley, 1998). It was during that time when she was the first lady that she becomes actively involved in advocating for civil rights across the country in efforts that would later culminate in the formation of the present-day United Nations which was known at the time as the League of Nations (Beasley, 1998).

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Eleanor was the person who oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is still used by the UN to promote human rights globally; it was one of her greatest achievements in her lifetime and the single most act of human right advocacy worldwide (Beasley, 1998). Indeed, it would be fair and accurate to state that Eleanor’s early efforts on human rights activism were part of the civil rights activism that contributed greatly to ushering the reforms on human rights issues at a very early stage in US history. To an extent, her efforts were part of the achievements that led to the reform of human rights issues in the United States which made it became a model country long before other countries could get to embrace the same principles.


Beasley, M. (1998). Eleanor Roosevelt: Transformative First Lady. Kansas: University Press of Kansas.

Gandhi, R. (2007). Gandhi: the man, his people, and the empire. California: University of California Press.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Mohandas Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt as Social Change Agents." December 29, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Mohandas Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt as Social Change Agents'. 29 December.

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