This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Last updated at 13:48 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

News Words: Activist



The BBC's Clare Arthurs looks at some of the words and phrases often used in the news and their meanings in various contexts.

Today: Activist

Uses of 'activist' and 'activism'


acting for a cause you believe in

peace activist

someone who campaigns/protests/demonstrates against war in general or, as in the talk, against a particular conflict

environmental activists

people who actively support the protection of the environment (i.e. the natural surroundings of a living organism)

radical activist

someone who either believes in and defends a great change or shows their support for a particular cause using some extreme measures

human rights activist

someone who strongly believes in and acts in support of the idea that each person should automatically have certain basic rights, such as justice, equality and the freedom to say what they think

'desperate activism'

when a person or a group of people back a particular cause through campaigning/protesting/demonstrating (because they have run out of other methods of convincing other people to support their cause)

Listen to Clare's talk


Examples from the talk

Two peace activists have admitted breaking into an RAF base to try to stop B-52 bombers taking off for Iraq.

Police in Nepal have arrested around 30 student activists protesting against King Gyanendra's seizure of power in February.

The Roman Catholic Church and environmental activists are trying to encourage worshippers at today's Palm Sunday celebrations to help save the yellow-eared parrot in Colombia.

In the last few days radical jobless activists have protested outside Shell service stations.

One of Cuba's best known activists, Oswald Paya, told the BBC the world had a moral duty to help the dissidents.

The leader of the Anglican Communion, Dr Rowan Williams, has called on the Church's senior clerics to put aside their differences over homosexuality for the sake of the Church as a whole. He criticised what he called 'the desperate activism' by which some were pursuing their aims.

More examples from BBC websites

Iain Simpson, from Pro-Test which supports animal testing, told the BBC he hoped the sentences would not deter legitimate activism, but would put off those intent on violence...
more about this story >>

Social networking with its passionate local engagement can be a springboard for social activism...
more about this story >>

South Africa's prominent anti-apartheid activist Allan Boesak has resigned from the new Congress of the People, citing squabbles within the opposition party...
more about this story >>

A challenge for you

What is your attitude to activism? If there was something you really wanted to change, how would you go about it? Take to the streets with placards? Write a blog? Or do nothing? Can you think of an activist, past or present, who you find inspiring? Send us your short 'news story' making sure you use the words 'activist' or 'activism' in it.

We'll publish our favourite ones on this page.

This topic has now closed. Thanks for all your comments.

long ,china
I became an activist for living rights,so many citys in china,the inhabitant can not be feeling safety because of taffic accident which ruslt from drunk driving.IN many case ,the past laws could not sentence the drunk driver to be arrested or only be sentenced to a fine .so I usually write blogs call on chinese authoritis revise the laws.

Deivison, Brasil
I think the greatest activism action we could do is to claim and supervise the politicians to use the money of taxes properly. Sometimes we use to take care of faraway causes, when the problem is closer than we think. The combat against corruption results in equality and social justice. That´s why I suggest citizens to find efficient ways to supervise the correct destination and use of the money we pay for in the form of taxes.

Hassan Sarki, Nigeria
I am peace activist if i want change something which is wrong or unfair to people, but also it's not easy to change, i'll organize peace activists in order to accomplished successfully.

In our surrounding there are so many silent social activist.They are very devoted towards social welfare.Actual they never want any recognition and they are strong pillar and they are omnipresent in every society.

Sanoop, India
Activism in general is a good method to educate the society about a particular issue or cause.It keeps ordinary human minds dynamic & opinionated by exposing them to new ideas,challenges,problems & concepts.Human society can't be stagnant.Activism plays a key role in making humanity vibrant & sensitive! As Mahatma Gandhi said,"Be the change you want to see in this world",is the best message activism gives to people who want to make a change in the planet.

Claudiu, Romania
I became an activist for a clean environment from the love of nature, mountain and outdoor sports. I managed to get involved in greening activities held nationwide, to initiate actions for greening local switch and I campaigned all over to rennounce the cars for bicycles

Ivan, Ukraine
I think that activism is normal appearence. When people have some problems with their work or sth. disturb their personal life they go out and try to tell others about the problem. In any way it may help

i saw environmental activists in earth day are chanting slogan and protesting.i suggest they work practically.for example they plant trees for removal of carbon dioxide by photosynthesis

Hady, Norway
AS for me, all movements (whatever they r) are supported by those who wants to gain selfish goal in the name of "freedom, equality, etc". Actually, they just use those activists leaders of what very aware of "who they serve for". it's well-known that all pickets, protest leads to destabilisation in some areas. Hence this allow to people who "behind scene" to get their hands on what they were aiming. Finally, what activist have as a reword? Yes! Bruises, fractures and health problems after police using tear gas.H.

Alice, Taiwan
Actions speak louder than words. I think activism do have some impact on the society because they remind some issues that our society neglects to do. I think most activists have positive attitude toward the world. Through this action they can draw more attention. The more attention they get, the more chance they could change the situation. And peaceful activists have better influence than violent ones.

Javier, Argentina
hello! here in Argentina, precisely in the province of Entre Ríos there is a city called Gualeguaychú, this is a clear example of environmental activists, the main thing is that the whole city is united against a paper-mill factory settled in our neighbour country Uruguay, this factory is dropping its wastes in the river we have in common. the method of protesting of this friendly environmental city (Gualeguaychú)is stopping the traffic of the international bridge, breaking the connection between Argentina & Uruguay, the situation is getting worse because it is said that an other paper-mill is going to be installed. The protesting of the city is not being heard, economics interests are vey hard to put down, but not impossible!! keep trying!

Alice China
I don't like radical activists who are extreme vigorous.sometimes,they are dangerous.Actually,I think negotiation or conference is better than campaign or protest.Nowadays,we need cooperation to solve problems in the world.

fabiana bevis Italy
Throughout history we have seen many activists,fighting for great causes:Gandhi used activism all is lifeand accomplished great did. I see myself as an activist fighting "my corner" in everyday life...not easy!

Many countries that facing poverty aand even starvation in African need more social activists from around the world to help them making better changes in there life.Don't you feel touching when you see little kids being all skin and bone!?? I do and,if I have a chance,I'd like to be an social activist right now !

Paulo Faria, Brazil
I don´t believe that radical activists can change some situation around the world. However, I think that activism associated with social and political changes and make with peaceful is extremely important for the world

I think they have also an important role in history. Activists are the people who take action first.Their job is to awake the society.Then they are followed. If there hadn't been activists, there wouldn't have been the French Revolution.Everything starts with them .I think people owe them a lot and they are the most courageous people.

Elodie, France
I'm agree with Jennifer. People would be prefer a peaceful activism. We can't fight fire with fire!

Giuseppe, Italy
In my country there's a great need of activism in politic, because our politic leaders are too old and interested only in our business. I know that will be hard, but everyone could say stop and bring new ideas.

Jean, Taiwan, R. O. C.
According to some sources, Taiwanese are 98 percent more likely to contract mad cow disease due to the gene. Last month in Taiwan a radical activist, who is a candidate for doctor's degree in Sociology at the National Taiwan University, ate the beef dung which he collected from the mountains to protest against the beef import to Taiwan from the United States. The 'desperate activism' was followed by lying the candidate himself in a coffin which was put in front of the entrance of Legislation Yen after his first demonstration was neglected by our government. I really admire his courage to take the risk of hurting himself to protect our people's health.

Didier, Indonesia
If I were an activist, first thing I would like to do is changing the mindset of Indonesian citizens starting from the top-bottom level as well as socialising the notions to the villagers so that they can understand the essence of life and stimulate them to become an independent citizens, having sense of humanity and the ultimate thing is self-awareness. It because I found most of them have no sens of humanity and self-awareness though they have high educational level.

chen yujun china
i lost my grilfriend last week,i am just so sad ,and i hope one day ,i will be a love activist ,and never get hurt by each other

Raul, Spain
I'm not consider myself an activist, but I would change something in my country: Politics. All political parties are very bad and they only want to get the power and more money for them...

Hosein Af,Iran
one type of the activism is the religious activism. Somebodys believe in this type , advertise their ideas and encourage other people to think about it .in fact this method is one of the best ways for developing religions in the world.

I think that activists are needed in the world.Many points of all things,the govement is one,the activist is one,and your seeing mayby right.And the goverment is always big lier,news reporters are just for live.So,why don't you know more about the discuss before you say who is wrong?

Hai, Vietnam
I think the activists are the persons who react and want to change the political decision making process to ensure the performance of human rights and the wellfare of whole or group community as well as elimination of negative impacts to the world such as environmental polution, poverty, climate change, spread of uncontrol diseases for example HIV/AIDs and flues H5N1, H1N1.

Ghassan, TUNISIA
I think that the activism is very important to any person who try to express himself and tell the others his view of point about a special action or situation. To be an activist means to integrate in the society and to be aware what happens arroud you. Besides, I think that the first goal of an activist is to put right the wrong situations and call up the others to do the best things for example it is good to be an human rights activist, peace activist or an environmental activist. However, being an activist to spread the bad things such as spread the hostility, racism or terrorism between the people is not good and the activism in this case would be a undesired activity.

Marwan Abdeh , Syria
Yes, of course. Being an activist is a great job, especially when an activist can change something in the world status qua where tyranny and oligarchy prevail. Unfortunately, however, there are areas in the world where an activist is crushed just like the tyrannized citizens. Look at the continuous Holocaust in Palestine. Which activist can do anything, if all European and American governments are silently dump or dumbly silent.

Reinaldo, Brazil
Hello, I think to be an activist you need to have a purpouse, something to fight for.And we have a huge one: EARTH.Let's save the Earth!

I just heard someone saying 'You've gotta fight for it.' I believe that is the point of activism.

Activism is not for everybody, it requires certain characteristics, but in my opinion most of us can cooperate to solve important issues in our societies just getting involved in supporting ideas in debates, congress, etc.

Cem, Turkey
I support activists but they are not enough strong to change this unfair capitalist system. It's necessary more struggle

Alessandro, Italy
I am an activist in atheism. I would like to send the pope back in Avignon (France), because with him it isn't possible any freedom of religion in Italy.I find inspiration from Lord Bertrand Russel's books. I'd like to tell you "The last abuse of power" of Berlusconi's Government in favour of Catholic Church.In Italy we have to choose if to assign the 0.8% of our taxes for some religions or for tate-controlled charity. Millions of people choose to devolve their 0.8% for state-controlled charity. Well, some weeks ago the Goverment gave most of this enormous amount of money to Vatican Church ....I am really disgusted by this situation.

LUU HUYNH, Vietnam
to become a peace activist is always my great dream since i was just a child. Now, i am doing my best for it and i believe that, with my heart, i can do it. i hope our world will be more peaceful with the effort of many peace activist from many countries all over the world.

Paulo Sawos, Brazil
I would like to change things that are happening around the world, especially people. Nowadays people fight by any reason, also think that the respect between peolpe are finished. What I make to contribute with this my cause, I am part of a site "alliance for a new humanity" - Deepa Choprak, and has many people back in lathe of the world there. If somebody share this idea, I recomend that you access the site and read the mesnagens.

Activism is certainly the proof that democracies are failing in their aim to represent the different opinions. If the representants of these democracies were effectively working for the sake of everyone, activism will not need.In other hand, in political regimes where freedom and human rights aren't respected, activism is necessary to improve the daily life.Human rights activists are probably the more courageous persons on the earth. Despite dangers and risks they are able to pursue their goals. Sometimes the price to pay is no less that their live.

Hiep, Vietnam
I think environmental activists has great significance today. And i would like to be an activist to protect partly my life and society for having better health.

Saulo, France
Be an activist doesn't mean being radical and / or violent. In my opinion the greatest example of activism was done by Mahatma Gandhi: he got what he want without force.

Jennifer, France
If I was to be an activist, I think I would like to change our school system as I think it is utterly appalling. I wouldn't go on strike but would prefer a peaceful activism, writing a blog or handing out leaflets to make people aware of the situation. The activist that I find most inspiring is the peace activist Gandhi who succeeded in conveying his ideas without any violence.

Aslin, Spain
hello! I am a student in spain. I like this page very much.Greetings.

Olya, Ukraine
Hello!I believe that activists should spend their time not on demonstrations or protest actions but rather on some particular acts. So instead of going to the streets with placards we can plant trees or help people in hospitals. Talking about activism I would rather think about Audrey Hepburn, who devoted the last years of her life to help lots of hungry and homeless children, than about some person who draws banners and marches in the streets. Though I can't deny that demonstrations also might be helpful as a tool to draw people's attention to some problem. But we shouldn't neglect the primary task which is to make a change.

Many activist is in danger in developing country. Suu Kyi is a democracy activist in Bruma, she was arrested for many year. I found them are inspring, because they are brave.

Donghyun Kim, S.Korea
I would like to be activist who realize and acheive my activism in our daily living. MY activism ? it's simply " don't be an onlooker against injustice"

Mick, Russia
I'm afraid i'm not activist. Now i should learn my classes (i'm a student), but i'm just sitting and do nothing. I'm very lazy, and i don't know what to do with it. You're gonna say: 'Hey man, everything is in your hands, cheer up, start working', but i feel so tired every day, that i have no power to do anything at all.Thank you for help, cause it was you who made me remind some english words to white this message:)

Shahzad, Pakistan
activism is a vigorous campaigning to change something but to me this is not always possible.sometimes things can be changed through dialogues,conferences and discussions.if i wish to change anything then simply i will start writing articles for the public to know the terms of positive impact of activism,french revolution is prominent, where activists liberated themselves from dangerous despots.

Bruno Demattos, Brazil
Nowadays, the most important environmental activist is President Lula. He wants a real position from USA and China about reduction of emissinos of greenhouse gases and will collect results from other countries.

Rogerio Batalha, Brazil
In my country, sometimes peace activists protest against the increasing violence. Unfortunately, we don't have a good public security mainly here in Bahia. So we have to get together to sensitize the government about this big problem.

Norma, Argentina
my country have a huge record about desperate activism.the people who protest have a woefully situation, because they have lost their jobs.

Yumna, Pakistan
i think activism should prevail in human being.when i look at the world i feel there is less human right activist,there is fredom for rich and famous one but no fredom for poor and low class people.yeah we should protest for that issue because that is their rights so how can we divided the world into classes.

Nowadays,many activists are working to make a better world.They deserve to have appreciation from people.Besides that,many people have bad attitudes to their lives.They ignore disabled persons,poor person... living around them and spend time on useless demonstrations(not all of the demonstrations)causing violence.Are they real activists?

Ali, Somali
in my opinion activism is a very nice job because activists work to achieve political or social change and somtimes we need to see changes in our life politically and socially .therefore I am fully supporting the attitudes of activism.and I often find inspire peace activists activists.


To take away:

Latest News Words

Latest Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation

  1. Home
  2. Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation
  3. News Words: Activist