HRDs being interviewed by journalists


Protection International pays tribute to all women human rights defenders

8 March 2018

To mark International Women’s Rights Day, Protection International pays tribute to all women around the world fighting to defend their rights and the rights of their communities to achieve a more just and more sustainable future for all.

Struggling to defend their culture, their identity, their territory, their livelihoods, organised within grassroots organisations, social movements or trade unions,

they are peasants, journalists, academics, nurses, mothers, students, artists or factory workers, very often informal carers, facing risks, threats, discrimination and criminalization, from both state and non-state actors.

And because they are women, or working on gender equality issues, breaking social taboos, gender-specific stereotypes and patriarchal laws, they also face specific aggressions targeting their family members or even coming from their own families and communities.

On this particular occasion, we want to acknowledge their daily as well lifelong struggles against violence in all its forms, against the crimes committed in armed conflicts, against militarization, against sexual violence, against land grabbing, against impunity, against discrimination.

They fight for the respect of the rights of women, children, economically and socially disadvantaged communities, for LGBTIQ rights and for the rights to all to live in dignity with their rights respected and implemented.

While facing the highest level of discrimination, women human rights defenders feed the world and struggle for a better world for all.

Protection International praises their courage, their strength, their struggles, their work and achievements, in a context of hardship and discrimination.  

It is an honor for Protection International to support them on their journey to achieving fairer societies.

For the first time ever, a Resolution on women human rights defenders was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 27th, 2013, entitled ‘Promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups, and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: Protecting Women Human Rights Defenders’.

See also OHCHR information series on Women Human Rights Defenders


Voices from the ground

THAILAND – Protection International in collaboration with WHRDs, the award photographer Luke Duggleby, and the Canadian Embassy (Canada Fund for Local Initiatives) published “Her Life, Her Diary: Side by Side. WHRDs 2018” to raise awareness of the vital work of WHRDs. This unique diary collates personal and community stories, political struggles, and the fight to defend human rights. The Diary provides an insight into the challenges and the victories of the many women who decide to rise up to defend human rights, and democracy and act against social injustice.

Discover in this video a few of these portraits!

GUATEMALA – On February 15, in the Caserío de el Tablón del Municipio de Casillas, Santa Rosa, the San Rafael mining company communicated to the media that their staff was held by “armed groups” made of community members. In reaction to this fallacious information, the Xinka Parliament and the peaceful resistance of Santa Rosa and Jalapa called a press conference, supported by which Protection International. The human rights defenders of this resistance read their press release, in which they rejected the provocative and defamatory acts of the mining company in the territory, including the media manipulation.

For defending the river, they put me in jail, accusing me of several crimes that I have not committed. This model of economic development has brought much violence to this region. We no longer want to impose their companies on our territory.

Women human rights defenders are a fundamental pillar in the defence of human rights in communities because they fight for a life without discrimination, harassment, exploitation and violence.

The land and territory are defended by an intimate relationship of life and existence with it. Through their daily struggles, indigenous women contribute to the construction of a fairer and more egalitarian society.

Photo: © The Next System Project