Women’s human rights defenders (WHRDs) are women of all ages who engage in the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and all people who engage in the defence of the rights of women and gender equality, either individually or in association with others. WHRDs act under the protection 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, otherwise known as the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of 1999.
WHRDs face the same types of risks as all defenders who work to uphold the rights of people, communities and the environment, but also, as women, they are exposed to gender-specific risks and are targets of gender-based violence. This may be due to the fact that WHRDs are perceived as opposed to accepted sociocultural norms, traditions and stereotypes about femininity and the role and status of women in society. Their work is often seen as challenging traditional notions of the family.
Swiss Center of Expertise in Human Rights – SCHR. Women’s Human Rights’ App. Based on 2013 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/68/181 Protecting Women’s Human Rights Defenders; UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders. 2010 Annual Report to the General Assembly; and other sources. Available at: http://www.womenshumanrigjhts.ch/overview.html