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About this Initiative

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Image from the publication Claiming Rights, Claiming Justice: A Guidebook on Women Human Rights Defenders created by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

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


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