Protection of women women human rights defenders: how diplomatic missions can support

How can diplomatic missions better protect women human rights defenders to continue their critical work? This is the topic of a new publication of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform, Peace Brigades International – the Netherlands & Cordaid. 

While women human rights defenders are at the forefront to tirelessly protect and support inclusive peace, human rights and gender justice all over the world, their work and existence is under increasing threat. 
Human rights defenders around the globe face social, political, and economic restrictions, violence, and other kinds of pushback. They are being harassed and attacked, not seen as legitimate participants in decision-making processes, structurally monitored and underfunded. Women human rights defenders face additional challenges that intersect with the above regular challenges. 

Unlike their male counterparts, women human rights defenders are often the main caretakers of their families and (young) children. This makes them less independent in their life time decisions, and less mobile to seek shelter in case of emergency. Moreover, for most (young) WHRDs, their activism is a way of living, which they cannot just stop when threatened or criminalized. They fight for who they are: non-traditional, sometimes non-cis, independent and/or critical young people and women. Characteristics that in themselves can be sufficient for those in power to feel threatened. 

In the spring of 2021 women human rights defenders from Afghanistan, Burundi, Uganda, Guatemala, Libya and Kenya met with heads of several Dutch missions, to share and discuss a variety of recommendations to diplomatic missions to bridge the needs gap. These recommendations are collected in this publication. Altogether they underline the importance of understanding and considering (young) women human rights defenders’ experiences in specific circumstances or environments, while at the same time recognizing the comparability of obstacles and challenges that women human rights defenders face across countries and regions. 

Read all recommendations here!