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Guidelines to protect women activists

Jul 07, 2011

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) and Women Human Rights Defenders Association have formulated a report Urgent Responses for Women Human Rights Defenders at Risk underlining responses to violence against women human rights defenders (WHRDs).

Urgent Responses for Women Human Rights Defenders at Risk: Mapping and Preliminary Assessment


Around the world, women human rights defenders (WHRDs) face a variety of threats as a direct result of their human rights-related work and because of changes in the context in which they do their work.

As human rights defenders, they face the same types of risks faced by all human rights defenders; as women they are also exposed to or targeted for gender-based violence and gender-specific risks. The pressures on, and threats to WHRDs are widely recognized and many rights groups have developed strategies and plans of action to provide support and solidarity as a result.

However, the lack of systemised knowledge about the array of urgent responses used to support WHRDs may have a significant impact on the effectiveness and viability of response efforts.

One participant in this study stressed that this mapping “really needs to be done because we know so little about what is out there and there is such a great need.”

Other interviewees stressed that often, WHRDs don’t know where to look for support—such as financial support to leave home countries in times of crises—because there is no central place where a person can look to get comprehensive information about the range of urgent responses and support programs available in different languages.

To help address this situation, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) in collaboration with the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) and its working group on Urgent Appeals Monitoring Mechanism for Women Human Rights Defenders at Risk sponsored this research.

The report is based on a review of available documentation as well as information provided during interviews with representatives from organizations that provide assistance to WHRDs, including members of the WHRD IC, among others.

 Reflecting the diversity of responses available for WHRDs, the research focused on a broad range of human rights organizations operating at different levels— international, regional and national—as well as groups with differing thematic priorities, including those working on women’s rights, human rights and sexual orientation.

 The purpose of the mapping is to help WHRDs identify the resources and tools available.

 Second, this study aims to review the characteristics of each organization’s contributions, and how different responses can feed into a broader strategy to protect WHRDs. Therefore, this study focuses mainly on urgent measures and not necessarily on preventive ones.

 While recognizing the important role that preventive measures—including training, network building and advocacy strategies—play in the protection of WHRDs, these measures are not the main focus of this report.

 Nevertheless, some of the measures covered in this study play a dual role as protective and preventive.

Source : AWID
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