Since it was formalised as a Coalition in 2008, WHRDIC has made impressive progress directly with Women Human Rights Defenders, in the broader human rights movement, and at the United Nations level.
We have been instrumental in creating an identity category – Women Human Rights Defender, or WHRD – that activists find legitimising and empowering.
The term ‘WHRD’ includes women activists; men who defend women’s rights; lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights defenders; and groups committed to the advancement of women’s human rights and sexual rights.
Before we formed the Coalition there was little public understanding of the unique risks facing WHRDs, even in human rights circles.
The Coalition has increased national and international recognition of women human rights defenders and their work.
“In the UN it was a successful advocacy project. Even in the African Commission, they have collaborated closely with two … Special Rapporteurs… I do hear from a highly ranked former Special Rapporteur and from others in the region that they do hear of WHRD IC.” – prominent human rights worker, 2012.
WHRD IC is the first coalition to bring together so many diverse activists and organisations in support of women human rights defenders.
Through the coalition, WHRDs around the world find solidarity, support, collaboration and the sharing of information and resources.
Organisations supported by the Coalition have adopted the WHRDs framework, and networks of women human rights defenders have been created in a number of countries.
We have delivered joint interventions before the UN Human Rights Council and supported national lobbying initiatives such as the campaign against the criminalisation of homosexuality that affect LGBTQI defenders in Uganda; urgent appeals concerning the systematic arrests of members of the One Million Signatures Campaign in Iran; and many other requests for joint endorsements of urgent appeals from women human rights defenders at risk in different countries.
We use our unique position to link the international community with WHRD groups all over the world, and to offer high-quality analyses of WHRDs’ situations globally – information regularly featured in the annual reports of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders.
Analysis provided by WHRDIC has contributed to some landmark international reports: Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders Ms. Margaret Sekaggya’s 2010 annual report focused on women human rights defenders and, in 2011, the Human Rights Council issued its first ever report on LGBT people.
We also have published a number of groundbreaking reports and publications. Two of these are The Global Report on the Situation of Women Human Rights Defenders, which has played a crucial part in advancing the recognition of WHRDs, and Claiming Rights, Claiming Justice: A Guidebook on Women Human Rights Defenders which helps women human rights defenders name the specific risks they face in their work and has been used by many organisations to keep a gender perspective in their monitoring of human rights.
Our work has led to systematic monitoring of women human rights defenders, and mechanisms protecting the rights of human rights defenders at the national, regional and international levels.
Some of these pay special attention to gender issues and to the gender dimensions of the work of human rights defenders.
One of the most significant victories achieved by the coalition, in collaboration with human rights defenders and organisations around the world, was the historic 2013 UN General Assembly resolution, ‘Protecting Women Human Rights Defenders’.
This resolution acknowledged both the work of WHRDs as well as the specific threats against them. It called on States to protect WHRDs and underlined the need to address the stereotypes and customs underlying violence against WHRDs.
We have raised public awareness of women human rights defenders through organising events such as at the annual session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
International Women Human Rights Defenders Day – 29 November – is another of our successes. This day was decreed by the women human rights defenders international committee, the precursor to WHRDIC, and first marked around the world in 2006.
This day is commemorated around the world each year, through street protests, public events, speeches and mainstream media coverage, publicly highlighting the need for protection of WHRDs.