Human Rights Council: Ensure explicit and meaningful recognition of WHRDs

19.06.2015

Patriarchal structures, discriminatory economic, social and cultural norms, gender stereotypes as well as unequal access to resources and opportunities have contributed to suppressing economic and political participation of millions of people around the world, including women human rights defenders, said a group of human rights organisations today.

Patriarchal structures, discriminatory economic, social and cultural norms, gender stereotypes as well as unequal access to resources and opportunities have contributed to suppressing economic and political participation of millions of people around the world, including women human rights defenders, said a group of human rights organisations today.

In a joint statement during the UN Human Rights Council’s Annual Day Discussion on the Human Rights of Women, ISHR, AWID, FORUM-ASIA, Nazra for Feminist Studies and the Urgent Action Fund for Women highlighted concerns that the work and activism of women human rights defenders around the world comes under increasing threat.

‘In light of the 1st anniversary of the arbitrary arrest and detention of Egyptian WHRDs including Yara Sallam, and the ongoing judicial harassment of Azza Soliman, feminist activists in Egypt continue to be targeted within the broader context of crackdowns on civil society activities’ highlighted Ms Margaret Mapondera from Just Associates (JASS) speaking on behalf of ISHR. She added that ‘the five feminist activists in China arrested for their peaceful activities commemorating International Women’s Day remain under constant surveillance even after their release. This appears to be part of a broader trend of suppressing women’s rights movements in the country’.

Reiterating concerns expressed by groups working on women’s rights, sexuality and gender during the Commission on the Status of Women earlier this year, Ms Mapondera  said that ‘international human rights mechanisms are delegitimized when governments restrict independent civil society from providing input into the processes’.

She further reminded States of the consensus General Assembly resolution 68/181 which recognized the vital contribution of WHRDs and their work on human rights and sustainable development. ‘To give it effect, governments must support and safeguard genuine inclusion, engagement and expression of WHRDs in international spaces, including at the Council, the General Assembly, the Commission on the Status of Women and in discussions about the SDGs’.

‘This requires that, at the very least, outcomes incorporate explicit recognition of the work of WHRDs and the specific challenges they face. Anything less would be a denial of the courage, legitimacy and strategic work of WHRDs worldwide’ Ms Mapondera concluded.