Women defenders are more at risk of suffering certain forms of violence… in particular when they work in the area of women’s rights. This can be particularly acute when women defenders are perceived as challenging cultural norms and social constructs related to gender, femininity and sexuality,’

Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

We commemorate all women human rights defenders on International Women Human Rights Defenders Day – 29th November.

The international women human rights defenders campaign, which was launched in 2004, reiterates the need to protect the lives of human rights defenders who are subjected to violence and vulnerable to abuse as they work towards protecting the lives of others.

Women human rights defenders not only face the same threats from Governments and corporations faced by their male colleagues, but often they also face threats and violence from family and community due to their gender, acts that go unseen and undocumented.

Fighting for rights, while battling stereotypes

They are women and girls, in every corner of the world, who actively work to defend their own rights and the rights of others, as well as a range of other activists of all sexualities who also defend the rights of women.

Throughout history, women have won successes in every area of human rights, and their role in these successes is being recognised at the international level like never before.

Some WHRDs are active as part of an organised collective, while some fight virtually alone – unsupported and even abused by their family or their community because of their human rights work.

As they fight for human rights, they also battle against gender stereotypes that invalidate their role as leaders of the community.

Women human rights defenders struggle continually against the idea that a woman’s role should be restricted to the private and domestic spheres.

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRDIC) is a network that supports and protects women human rights defenders worldwide in their defence of human rights.