Women Human Rights Defenders: Left Behind in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda

Authored by: Amy Dwyer

Categories: Conflict Prevention, Peace Support Operations, The Field of Women, Peace and Security, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Access to Justice and Rule of Law, COVID-19, Democratization and Political Participation, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), UN Resolutions
Region: No Region
Year: 2020
Citation: Dwyer, Amy. "Women Human Rights Defenders: Left Behind in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda." Centre for Women, Peace, and Security. February 2020.

Access the Resource:

Executive Summary

UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, and the subsequent resolutions that form the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, highlight the importance of women’s equal participation in promoting peace and security. Women play a critical role in addressing the causes and consequences of conflict by organising and advocating for the rights of the most vulnerable. They have shaped international human rights frameworks, brokered ceasefires, coordinated humanitarian relief and led reconciliation efforts. Women protecting rights, and those who explicitly identify as a woman human rights defender (WHRD), face gendered obstacles shaped by entrenched stereotypes and harmful cultural norms. Evidence shows that increased targeting of WHRDs correlates to an escalation in conflict,1 and as such support to WHRDs is vital in advancing WPS objectives. Despite commitments to protect WHRDs through safe and enabling environments, many states are not meeting this obligation through failure to act in response to attacks against them. It has been over 20 years since the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and subsequently 10 resolutions affirming commitment to protect WHRDs. Following the recent 20- year anniversary of the adoption of UNSCR 1325, this brief outlines the challenges faced by WHRDs against the pillars of the WPS agenda and how the Security Council, states and donors can deliver their commitments to protect WHRDs.