Challenging power, fighting discrimination

A call to action to recognise and protect women human rights defenders
Violence against women Women's rights Human rights Women

This briefing summarises the key challenges affecting women human rights defenders (WHRDs) that Amnesty International has documented globally in recent years and includes input collected through interviews conducted with 23 WHRDs from 21 countries in all continents between February and April 2019. All those interviewed insisted that more action is urgently needed so that they can continue with their critical human rights work in an environment free from violence, intimidation and harassment.

The report ends with a series of recommendations that need to be urgently implemented in particular by states, who bear the main responsibility in ensuring a safe and enabling environment for WHRDs, but powerful non-state actors such as business and community leaders, as well as donors, financial institutions and intergovernmental bodies also need to take proactive steps to address the situation of violence, inequality, discrimination and exclusion faced by WHRDs.

We are at a critical juncture. Now is the time to vigorously defend the human rights of all, starting with WHRDs and all those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Now is the opportunity to recognise how WHRDs are spearheading the global human rights movement and for all to stand with them, join them and support them. They must urgently be recognised, legitimised, applauded and protected.

Amnesty International launched this briefing on 29 November 2019, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, to celebrate the activism and courageous acts of resistance of all WHRDs. The coming year will also provide a key opportunity to support them, as 2020 marks 25 years since the international community adopted by consensus the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, committing to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women and girls everywhere and to ensure the full implementation of their human rights.

Those with power must recognize WHRDs as key agents of change in obtaining justice, equality, peace and sustainable development, and protect them so they are able to take action for the defence of human rights in safe and enabling environments without discrimination or violence.

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