On The Road To Istanbul: Preparations For Activities Regarding Women Human Rights Defenders At The 12th AWID Forum
Highlights from AWID’s Women Human Rights Defenders initiative on sessions and activities involving WHRDs
From April 19th to the 22nd, 2.000 feminist and women’s rights activists will gather in Istanbul to explore the theme of “Transforming Economic Power to Advance Women’s Rights and Justice”at the 12th AWID Forum. The Forum Program lists over 200 activities, including a daily plenary session, a variety of in-depth sessions, break-out sessions that were selected through the Call for Proposals, feminist economic toolbox, artistic/cultural sessions, and specialized areas for Wellness, Resource Mobilization, Communications, Young Feminists, and Economic Education.
Here are some highlights from AWID’s Women Human Rights Defenders initiative on sessions and activities involving WHRDs:
The Wellness Area is a comfortable and safe environment to enjoy a moment of tranquility during the Forum. In this area we will hold conversational sessions where participants will learn skills and share stories regarding collective experiences in security and safety particularly for women activists. We are also lining up great practitioners who will offer advice and organize a variety of activities for participants to take care of themselves while at the Forum. This will include "practice" sessions from massage to reiki, from yoga to circus aerobics, drumming and other exciting activities. We are also going to have space for one-on-one consultations with wellness and security practitioners, who are also participants at the Forum, for anybody interested to have a chat about different issues regarding self-care in relation to our day-to-day work as women’s rights activists. Self-care and security is a right for all who work on defending and promoting women’s and human rights.
AWID’s WHRD initiative has been working jointly with the Institute for Women’s Empowerment, Kvinna till Kvinna, JASS, Consorcio Oaxaca, and Linksbridge, to organize this Wellness Area full of resources, activities and sessions to increase our understanding about the importance of taking care of ourselves as women human rights defenders, to exercise this as our own right and for the sustainability of our movements and organizations.
Break-Out Sessions about Women Human Rights Defenders:
"Exploring the contexts that enable violence against Women Human Rights Defenders: Reflections from the WHRD International Coalition"
WHRDs face violence both for what they do and for who they are. Much has changed since the initial coining of the term in 2005 – increased recognition of WHRDs, understanding of contexts, and improving response mechanisms. This session will reflect on the evolving work to defend and protect WHRDs, focusing on the particular contextual analysis of crisis in democracy and governance from the perspective of three different regions.
Sunila Abeysekera, INFORM, Sri Lanka
Leyla Yunus, Institute for Peace and Democracy, Azerbaijan
Dilcia Zavala, Red de Mujeres Defensoras, Honduras
Jenni Williams, WoZA, Zimbabwe
“Strengthening the collective capacity of WHRDs to respond to violence on the ground: Lessons from the Meso-American WHRD Initiative”
The Meso-American initiative brings together Women Human Rights Defenders to share strategies, build support systems, and develop joint responses to urgent alerts. We will explore the construction of the Meso-American initiative and invite participants to reflect how this initiative – and similar efforts in other regions – can strengthen WHRD networks.
Analía Penchaszadeh, AWID, Argentina (Moderator)
Marusia López, JASS/ Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras, Mexico
Morena Herrera, Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Social, El Salvador
Ana María Hernandez, Consorcio Oaxaca para el Diálogo Parlamentario, Mexico
Daysi Flores, JASS/ Red de Nacional Mujeres Defensoras, Honduras
Renu Rajbhandari, WOREC, Nepal
Other sessions of interest to WHRDs include break-out sessions on the theme of militarism, conflict and violence, as well as the in-depth session on this theme, which will explore how these issues impact women’s lives, and discuss the ways in which women have been organizing for a peace. Other break-out sessions will focus on the situation of women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with reflections on the situation of women’s rights activists in the region. See the program guide for full details.
Solidarity Roundtables with Women Human Rights Defenders:
“WoZA: Raising awareness and building solidarity with Women Human Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe facing violence and violations of their rights”
Description: The WHRD International Coalition and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WoZA) will lead a roundtable about the sustained violence and harassment of women’s rights activists in Zimbabwe, the context of human rights violations and impunity, and international efforts to support WoZA and other organizations and demand an end to their persecution.
Members of the WHRD International Coalition working group on urgent responses
Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WoZA)
“Building solidarity with Women Human Rights Defenders in Central Asia and the Caucus region facing violence and violations of their rights”
An activist in Azerbaijan found her building demolished in retaliation for her actions denouncing illegal demolitions. Public gatherings are considered illegal in some countries in the region. Participants from Central Asia and the Caucus will share experiences of violence against WHRDs and violations to their rights, and brainstorm solidarity actions.
Leyla Yunus, Institute for Peace and Democracy, Azerbaijan
To be joined by other participants from the region
Other solidarity roundtables of interest to WHRDs will address situations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Haiti, and several other countries. See the program guide for full description of the solidarity roundtables.
We will be paying tribute to feminists and women human rights defenders who have passed away or have been disappeared since the last AWID International Forum in 2008. A selection of photos that we have collected will be used in the creation of a photo-art exhibit and an audiovisual presentation at a special tribute during the 2012 AWID International Forum. The tribute will honor them and celebrate their lives and contributions to the women’s movement. In the months ahead we will also share the audiovisual presentation on our website in commemoration of the work and lives of our sisters.
We hope you share our excitement about the upcoming AWID Forum and we look forward to seeing you in Istanbul!