Vote yes to protect women human rights defenders

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Tuesday, 26 November, 2013

“This vote recognises the courageous women who defy patriarchy every day.” Amid concerns that some UN member states may vote against a resolution to protect women human rights defenders, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Hina Jilani author an open letter urging support for the vote.

Elders Gro Harlem Brundtland and Hina Jilani have published an open letter calling on UN member states to vote in favour of the first ever resolution specifically on protecting women human rights defenders.

Member states have passed previous resolutions on human rights defenders by consensus. This week’s vote at the UN General Assembly represents an effort to recognise the critical role played by women human rights defenders, as Gro Harlem Brundtland and Hina Jilani write:

“This vote recognises the courageous women who defy patriarchy every day, everywhere in the world, to champion human rights. They hold communities together in times of war – and hold the key to building peaceful communities when the guns go silent. In so many male-dominated institutions, they campaign for women’s voices to be heard. They stand with men in public squares to challenge autocratic leaders.”

They also emphasise the particular risks and repercussions that women human rights defenders face in their work:

“They can be harassed and verbally abused. They face gender-based violence including rape. Their children and their families may be targeted. Often, they come up against entire systems of laws and cultural values designed to silence them.”

Despite strong support from civil society groups in Africa and elsewhere, there is concern that not all member states are prepared to support the resolution. The two Elders, along with women Nobel Peace Laureates and human rights organisations worldwide, urge the international community to “do the right thing” and vote in favour of the resolution.

Read the full text of the letter.

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