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. Women human rights defenders suffer threats, stigma, social rejection and worse, not only because they are promoting and defending the rights of others, but also because they are women doing that work. In 2017, across the world 10 women journalists were killed, often as they persevered in the face of threats, harassment and intimidation. In Mexico between 2010 and 2018: more than 48 women defenders and journalists were killed. Almost half the human rights defenders PBI accompanies are women.

It is essential that states commit to ensuring a safe environment for human rights defenders, implementing prevention and protection programs for human rights defenders, with a gender focus. We reiterate the need to promptly investigate all cases of threats and attacks against women defenders and to condemn those responsible.

In 2019 PBI published a series of interviews with WHRDs as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the issues that women human rights defenders face: #UsWomenDefenders.


Elements of our work on WHRDs:

PBI is a member of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition;

2019 - PBI article for International Women's Day. Read about the struggles of Rosa Maria Mateus Parra, Colombia, Lilian Borjas, Honduras, Yaneth Bautista, Colombia

2015 - PBI innovative set of tools for Women Human Rights Defenders;

2015 - Report 'EMPOWERED: Integral Protection for Women Human Rights Defenders', Mexico.

2013 -  PBI contributed to the G8 Declaration on Sexual Violence in Conflict;

2013 - Video with 5 Colombian WHRDs talking about the threats they recieve. - "Women Human Rights Defenders Receive Threats;

2012 - "Women Human RightsDefenders: Empowering and Protecting the Change-Makers" Report on protection needs from a UK conference with WHRDs;


Accompanied WHRDs & organisations working for women's rights





If you share PBI's vision of a world where Women Human Rights Defenders are free to protect their rights and lands without fear of reprisals and violence, you can help by donating to our Shoulder to Shoulder campaign.