Skip to main content

10 years anniversary of the UN WGDAW: taking stock and paying tribute to women human rights defenders

On 30 November 2020, the Working Group organised a virtual panel discussion to celebrate the 10 years of the mandate and to pay tribute to women human rights defenders on the occasion of International Women Human Rights Defenders Day. The establishment of this mandate, which was created thanks to the many efforts, advocacy and campaigns of civil society actors and Member States, represented a milestone on the long road towards gender equality. The HRC recognized that, still in 2010, despite significant progress made, discrimination against women and girls persisted in every part of the world, transcending national, cultural and religious boundaries and often fuelled by patriarchal power imbalances, mirrored in laws, policies and practices.

In a global context of rollbacks of women’s rights linked to rising authoritarianism, shrinking civic space, economic/health crises, rocketing inequality and misuse of culture and religions for populist political agendas, the need to protect the gains from the past and to urgently advance women’s substantive equality was highlighted. Panellists reflected on the work of the Group over the last decade and shined a light on those areas of women’s and girls’ rights subjected to particular resistance: their right to equality in the family and their sexual and reproductive health rights. Panellists also reflected on ways to further strengthen women’s human rights machinery in a collective struggle to eliminate discrimination against women and achieve gender equality. Tribute was paid to the relentless, valiant and admirable work of all women human rights defenders who, day after day, combat and denounce inequalities. Without their labour, the Working Group would not exist and could not function. The debate was framed in the current context of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to access the full recording of the event.

Panellists (click on names to access the full interventions):

  • H.E. Ms. Socorro Flores Liera, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations at Geneva
  • Alda Facio, former member of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls
  • Kamala Chandrakirana, former and founding member of the Working Group
  • Frances Raday, former and founding member of the Working Group
  • Zainah Anwar, Executive Director, Musawah
  • Paola Daher, Senior Global Advocacy Advisor, Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Margarita Quintanilla, Coordinator of the record system on attacks of the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders

Two women human rights defenders, committed, fervent activists who struggle in their regions to achieve greater gender equality and who are part of regional networks were invited to intervene:

  • Phumi Mtetwa, regional co-Director of Jass Southern Africa
  • Islam El Khatib, member of the WHRD-MENA Coalition