IWDA submission: The status of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs)
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders requested IWDA’s input on the status of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs). IWDA works with WHRDs across Asia and the Pacific through our partner organisations and advocacy networks. WHRDs can be defined as women (in all their diversities) engaged in human rights defence including sexual and reproductive rights, women’s political and economic empowerment, land rights and labour rights, and can also include men who advocate for women’s rights and gender equality.
While human rights defenders of all genders face challenges and threats because of their activism, WHRDs have a uniquely gendered experience. WHRDs’ public position and outspoken work is often considered ‘unwomanly’ and goes against cultural norms. As a result, WHRDs receive threats of a more personal and sexual nature than their male counterparts. For instance, WHRDs often receive threats against their children, or threats of sexual violence. Male human rights defenders do not usually receive these types of threats.