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Campaign Honours Women Human Rights Defenders

“Women’s rights are human rights” was the rallying cry nearly 20 years ago of women human rights defenders in Beijing as they pushed Governments to recognize that violence and discrimination against women are fundamental human rights concerns.

To recognize the work that the defenders have done in the 20 years since the adoption of the Platform for Action, the UN Human Rights Office hosts #reflect2protect. This campaign will highlight some of the work currently being undertaken by women’s human rights defenders.

In addition, the campaign also encourages all people to express their solidarity with women’s human rights defenders through social media channels and including mirror selfies of themselves. There is also a video to introduce the campaign.

In 1995, Governments made commitments to improve women’s rights and achievements with a Platform for Action – an ambitious vision for achieving women’s rights and equality. The plan covers 12 areas of concern on diverse issues such as armed conflict, poverty, girl child, violence against women, and health.

Yet, while many countries have taken actions to improve women’s basic human rights, nations still fall short in the achievement of universal human rights for women, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Today, there is even more of a responsibility to protect the gains of the last 20 years, while still pushing for further change, he said.

“We must recognize the vital role of women who defend human rights, often at great risk to themselves and their families precisely because they are viewed as stepping outside socially prescriptive gender stereotypes” said Zeid said in an opinion piece in early December.

As part of its commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Conference, the UN Human Rights Office has also launched a publication entitled “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.” This resource is a primer for anyone seeking to understand the basics of women’s human rights – the legal standards, the political commitments, and specific issues of particular importance to women and girls’ empowerment and rights.

12 December 2014

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