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[16days_discussion] Fwd: Supporting Women Human Rights Defenders

16 Days 16days at
Tue Aug 7 13:14:18 EDT 2012

Dear 16 Days Listserv Members,

Please see the article below on the recent panel discussion on Women 
Human Rights Defenders at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.  The 
original article can be found at:

In solidarity,
The 16 Days Team

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	Supporting Women Human Rights Defenders
Date: 	Tue, 7 Aug 2012 18:16:05 +0200
From: 	WUNRN ListServe <list at WUNRN.COM>
Reply-To: 	mosie at INFIONLINE.NET


30 July 2012 - ?Women human rights defenders have always been a part of 
the human rights movement as well as other social movements, although 
their role and contribution has not always been recognized,? says Mona 
Rishmawi, UN Human Rights Chief of Branch, on behalf of UN Human Rights 
Deputy High Commissioner Kyung-wha Kang, during a panel discussion on 
women human rights defenders at the latest session of the Human Rights 
Council in Geneva.

A woman activist carries a poster during a protest against family 
violence in Beirut, Lebanon, 2011 © EPA/Wael HamzehThe panel discussion 
was part of a full-day gathering on women?s human rights with leaders 
and experts in women?s rights, human rights defenders, and Member 
States. While the first panel focused on remedies and reparations for 
women who have been subjected to violence, this particular panel was 
dedicated to exploring the situation of women human rights defenders and 
recommendations to ensure their protection.

?Although much progress has been made in realizing women?s rights, we 
must acknowledge that we still live in a world where women face serious 
inequalities in all spheres of life?at home, at work, in communities and 
in politics,? Rishmawi said on how women human rights defenders find 
themselves working within this reality of inequality.

On behalf of Kang, Rishmawi highlighted the work of the UN Human Rights 
Office (OHCHR) to adopt a comprehensive framework to strengthen its work 
to protect all human rights defenders with specific measures to assist 
women. She noted that all OHCHR staff should ?take into account gender 
dimensions in assessing risks and integrate gender perspectives in all 
measures at all levels designed to protect civil society actors under 

?This includes taking appropriate measures to respond to violence 
against women. OHCHR will remain committed to working with women human 
rights defenders, and ensuring protection of these defenders in their 
important work,? Rishmawi said.

Margaret Sekaggya, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, 
said that women face several gender-specific threats in conflict areas 
such as ?violations ranging from verbal abuse based on sex, to sexual 
abuse and rape.? Sekaggya also added that women face gender 
discrimination and gender stereotypes. ?Quite often States use their 
security agencies to quell demonstrations, violence, and in many 
instances, violence against women is very prominent,? she added.

Sunila Abeysekera, from the International Coalition for Women Human 
Rights Defenders, presented several key areas where women human rights 
defenders are faced with challenges. Abeysekera stated that there were 
brutal violations suffered by those who worked on issues of people?s 
right to land, water and a clean environment. There were also violations 
confronted by women human rights defenders who worked on reproductive 
rights and on rights related to sexuality. The defenders who organize 
and mobilize communities, as well as the women who participate in 
rebuilding societies and their structures of governance are exposed to 
repeated violations.

Jose De Jesus Orozco, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders 
of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said that women face 
more risks than other human rights defenders and the situation is 
increasingly worsening in some countries.

The panel offered recommendations for helping women human rights 
defenders. Abeysekera suggested that the ?fight against impunity was 
critical in combating violence against women and protecting women human 
rights defenders.?

Sekaggya stressed that ?States should recognize good practices and 
examples from programs implemented at the domestic level to avoid 
duplication, and stressed the need for closer cooperation and 
consultation with human rights defenders themselves in the design of 

Nayar Abdelgadir, of the Geneva Institute for Human Rights, said that 
countries in transition should implement protective measures so that 
women human rights defenders could continue working without the risk of 

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