WHRDIC and Amnesty International Statement at CSW61 2017

WHRDIC and Amnesty International statement read at CSW61 by Maryam al-Khawaja

Your Excellencies,

Amnesty International is making this statement on behalf of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, which is a resource and advocacy network of 37 women’s organizations from across the world working for the protection and support of women human rights defenders. We recognize the ground-breaking contributions by women human rights defenders, their committed advocacy for the promotion of human rights, and the risks that they face in this work. Because of their gender and human rights advocacy, women human rights defenders are subject to targeted attacks, requiring intersectional and gender-specific responses for their protection and support.

Despite the growing focus on violations of women human rights defenders’ rights in the international arena, including in the agreed conclusions of the 60th session of the Commission in 2016, General Assembly Resolution 68/181 on women human rights defenders, and increased attention to protection mechanisms, violence against defenders and civil society has continued to increase globally.

Women human rights defenders stand for freedom of expression, land rights, rights of Indigenous and rural communities, economic justice and the rights of workers, the rights to political participation, sexual and reproductive rights, and the rights of individuals facing discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And yet, women human rights defenders are being threatened and killed, face repression, arrest and detention, physical and sexual violence, gender based threats and smear attacks both physically and in online spaces.

In recognition of shrinking civil society spaces that elevate threats and violence and also make their work all the more vital, and linking to the priority and emerging themes, we make the following recommendations to the 61st Commission on the Status of Women:

  1. Respect, protect and promote the work of women human defenders, and other civil society actors towards the realisation of gender equality, the right to just and favourable conditions of work and other areas of human rights, including by facilitating access to information and enabling the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, and public participation. ​
  2. Increase resources and support for grassroots, local, national, regional and global feminist and women’s labour and civil society organizations to advance and promote gender equality and the women’s economic justice and the human rights of women and girls, as well as expanding the space for their participation in public debate and policymaking.
  3. Recognize the particular threats and violations women human rights defenders face in doing their work and support the implementation of the women human rights defenders resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013; facilitate an open civil society and enable women human rights defenders to defend rights without fear of femicide and sexual violence, unlawful surveillance, violations of privacy, prosecution, physical or online harassment, reprisals or closure of their organizations by repressive governments.

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