Women and minority rights activists around the world are working to create positive change in their communities. Women human rights defenders face many of the same challenges as their male counterparts. However, many face additional obstacles and threats because they challenge the status quo twice over – through their work and by challenging (by their very existence) accepted norms, traditions, perceptions and stereotypes about femininity, sexual orientation and the role and status of women in society. As a result, they are vulnerable to threats, stigma, rejection by family and community, and violence.

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Women human rights defenders

Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) do the same work as their male counterparts, and face many of the same challenges and threats as a result. However, women face additional obstacles and threats on account of their gender. In many societies women are not expected to speak out and challenge the status quo.

Invisible Mandelas film

“I don't think we need a magic wand. We need to exert pressure, we need to exercise citizenship, and with this we will succeed." - Dina Meza. Journalist. Honduras

While human rights defenders make invaluable contributions to upholding justice and the rule of law, these ‘Invisible Mandelas’ often do not receive the global recognition they deserve and require for their safety. Building the visibility, credibility, and legitimacy of HRDs significantly reduces the risks they face, and the role of the international community is of great importance.

From Colombia to Kenya: women defy all odds to bring about justice and change

International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements in the political and social spheres, while also serving as a reminder that the fight for true gender equality is still far from over. Every day, PBI witnesses the actions and impacts of courageous women who take a stance against injustice and the violation of their rights. 

Pasta de Conchos: The struggle for justice - A short documentary

Cristina Auerbach’s journey as a human rights defender began when an explosion in February 2006 inside the Pasta de Conchos mine in northern Mexico’s state of Coahuila trapped 65 miners. As the company owning the mine abandoned the search and rescue of the bodies, and authorities failed to be held accountable for the breaches in the mine’s safety standards, Auerbach took up the task of demanding justice for the victims’ relatives and campaign for the recovery of the bodies, all but two of which remain buried underground.

Wangui Kimari, Mathare Social Justice Centre, Kenya

Wangui Kimari works as the participatory action research coordinator for the Mathare Social Justice Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, a community-based organisation in the poor urban settlement Mathare. The organisation strives for social justice by means of community engagement and the use of social movement platforms.

PBI Condemns Murder of Trans Activist in Guatemala

PBI Guatemala condemns the cruel murder of Evelyn Robles, a trans activist found dead on November 18 . Evelyn Robles was accompanied by PBI between 2006 and 2009, due to the threats she faced after having witnessed the extrajudicial execution of Paulina Marrot, another trans activist, in January 2006. Evelyn Robles had identified agents of the National Civil Police as being the authors of this crime, during which she herself was seriously injured. To this day, the murder of Paulina continues in impunity.

In their own words: Cristina Auerbach and Esmeralda Saldaña, Mexico

Amidst human rights crisis, Mexican human rights defenders struggle for justice in the coal mining region of Coahuila 

"The campaign against me has been horrendous, I have been libelled and followed and threatened," Cristina Auerbach says. "That is why the work of PBI has been so crucial. We really value it."

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