NGOs make statement on integration of gender in human rights work

September 16, 2013

On 12 September 2013 Cynthia Rothschild delivered a statement the Human Rights Council on behalf of World Organization Against Torture, with Amnesty International, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Association for Progressive Communications, Association for Women’s Rights in Development, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Coalition of African Lesbians, Front Line Defenders, International Service for Human Rights, ISIS- WICCE, Latin American and the Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights, MADRE, Nazra for Feminist Studies, Urgent Action Fund, WOREC Nepal, and Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice. 

“The Council has done strong work in support of the 6/30 gender integration resolution. But state and UN policymakers and activists alike must strengthen our commitment to surface the very issues and people often rendered invisible in human rights analysis, such as sex workers or lesbians or transgender people.  In the global North and South, women human rights defenders are targeted for murder, kidnapping, torture including rape, and harassment because of who they are and the work they do.  We need deeper commitment to make the reality of defenders’ experience visible. To do this, we collectively, and you specifically, must address the contexts of increased militarization, fundamentalisms of all kinds, including religious and economic, in a world deeply affected by globalization, and also the restrictive effects of the heteronormativity that confines women’s choices about relationships and family.

Activists address these issues and are targeted for grave violations and reprisals as a result.  Whether at the hands of state or private actors, women human rights defenders are continually and systematically at risk. So it is time for renewed courage and depth from those who turn the wheels of the UN’s human rights mechanisms and individual decision makers within governments.

Make the 6/30 resolution real. Infuse it with purpose, meaningfulness. Renew your attention to it. Think about this every day: If you really show your political will, you will save the lives of women human rights defenders around the globe. And you will help create the world Sunila so bravely fought for.”


The speaker also added a tribute: “Earlier this week, the WHRD Coalition lost one of our founding members, Sunila Abeysekera, a tireless, fierce and much loved Sri Lankan activist. For decades, Sunila fought for the ideals, tactics and strategies expressed on this panel.  he taught many of us that real integration of a gender perspective requires sharp and sensitive gender analysis, deep political will, and meaningful resource allocation. And she taught us that women activists and defenders of rights related to gender are often the first to fall off the radar of those within governments and within UN mechanisms and activities.”


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