FRIDAY FILE - Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) work under precarious conditions, often putting their lives in danger as they defend and protect women’s economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) across the globe.
Women Human Rights Defenders
About this Initiative
Violence against Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) is increasing around the world. As human rights defenders, WHRDs face the same types of risks faced by all defenders who work to uphold the rights of people, communities and the environment; as women, they are also exposed to gender-specific risks and are targets of gender-based violence. AWID is responding to the context of increasing violence against activists through the WHRD Strategic Initiative, based on our mission and key constituency of women’s rights advocates working across issues, in all regions and sectors.
AWID’s WHRD Strategic Initiative aims to raise awareness of violations of the rights of WHRDs; strengthen mechanisms for their protection; and contribute to more gender-responsive and effective responses to WHRDs at risk. AWID works with allied organizations within the WHRD International Coalition to increase visibility around violence against WHRDs globally, and improve responses to WHRDs at risk through increased coordination among human rights and women’s rights organizations. The WHRD Strategic Initiative mobilizes AWID’s members and broader constituency to take urgent action to protect WHRDs at risk and develops resource materials for WHRDs around the world.
AWID also supports regional initiatives led by women’s and human rights organizations to document incidents of violence against WHRDs; develop support and protection networks; and promote joint strategies. Currently this work is taking place in Mexico and Central America (Meso America) through the Meso American Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders, which seeks to contribute to the protection of WHRDs in the region and to document their experiences so that these can be shared with other regions of the world. AWID is a member of this Initiative’s Steering Group along with Just Associates (JASS), the Oaxaca Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity from Mexico (Consorcio Oaxaca), the Guatemala Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (UDEFEGUA), the Central American Women’s Fund (FCAM), and the Feminist Collective for Local Development from El Salvador (Colectiva Feminista). These efforts contribute towards building the collective power of women activists and their allies to address violence against WHRDs, since movement building across diverse, organized women is a key dimension of the response strategy.
To learn more about AWID’s work to Support and Protect Women Human Rights Defenders please click here
What's new from this initiative
FRIDAY FILE: Murders of indigenous women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the Philippines have caused worldwide condemnation. Defending indigenous communities’ rights to sustainable livelihoods, and protecting ancestral lands from mining interests has become an increasingly dangerous struggle.
FRIDAY FILE - Since the coup d’état in Honduras in June 2009, there has been an on-going and worsening situation of systemic violence and assassinations of human rights defenders. This is particularly serious for women human rights defenders (WHRDs).
FRIDAY FILE - With the upsurge in the criminalization of civil society, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders’ 2012 report discusses how States use legislation to regulate the activities of human rights defenders (HRDs).
Honduras, considered to be one of the world's most dangerous countries, is plagued by assassinations of journalists, lawyers and activists.
Message of solidarity with the victims of repression in Totonicapán, Guatemala from networks, organizations and women human rights defenders
With indignation and grief at the repression of the Government of Guatemala against its people on October 4th, 2012, alliances, organizations and women human rights defenders in Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Holland, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama and other countries offer our solidarity and support.
To stop the repression and violence that has been directed against Women Human Rights Defenders and communities fighting for their rights, the Meso-American Initiative of WHRDs and allied organizations convened the 11 October Day in Solidarity with Honduras. See below for the Call to Action, a report on the actions, the Honduras Statement, and news coverage.
AWID strongly condemns the attempted assassination of 14-year-old Pakistani school girl and activist, Malala Yousufzai by Taliban militants. We remain vigilant regarding Malala's condition and we are posting relevant information on the situation of WHRDs in Pakistan on this page.
FRIDAY FILE: Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) who promote the rights; health and safety of sexual workers are being persecuted, harassed and arrested.
FRIDAY FILE: Threats and violence against women journalists are on the rise in many regions of the world. In their work exposing injustices and bearing witness to human rights violations, women journalists are women human rights defenders and as such are in need of better security and protection mechanisms.
Women human rights defenders organizations presented a shadow report to the CEDAW Committee of Experts, highlighting the Mexican Government’s lack of compliance and demanded a special investigation on violence against women human rights defenders and journalists in Mexico. The Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative contributed to the report and was part of the delegation to New York, along with Consorcio Oaxaca, Red Mesa de Mujeres de Ciudad Juárez, and Just Associates (JASS).
- Claiming Rights, Claiming Justice (in English, French, and Spanish, available from Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition)
- Insiste Persiste Resiste Existe - Women human rights defenders' Security Strategies (Resiste) (in English, French and Spanish, available from Front Line)
Who is a WHRD?
As a member of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, AWID understands WHRDs as “women active in human rights defense who are targeted for who they are as well as all those active in the defense of women’s rights who are targeted for what they do. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists participate in many human rights struggles, including the advocacy for sexual rights. They become vulnerable to violence because of who they are and the work they do, especially when that work is directly related to sexuality. We refer to them as women human rights defenders, too.”
Read the latest urgent actions
- Support Women Persecuted for Blogging about Human Rights Violations
- Colombia: Women Human Rights Defender Ingrid Vergara's daughter targeted
- Turkey – Trial against VAKAD and other civil society organisations in Van continues
- Turkey: Trial against VAKAD and other civil society organisations in Van continues
- Bahraini WHRD Zainab Al Khawaja's sentence upheld
Read the latest content on Women Human Rights Defenders
- 2013 Courage in Journalism and Lifetime Achievement Award winners
- Digital Security First-Aid Kit for Human Rights Defenders
- Women’s Rights Still Denied in Latin America
- UN Secretary-General calls for submissions to report on reprisals against human rights defenders
- Open Letter to the Government of Bahrain: Respect the Rights of Al-Khawaja Family