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In celebration of UN Human Rights Day this December 10th the Urgent Responses Working Group of the Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) International Coalition, in collaboration with AWID, released the Recommendations to Enhance the Protection and Security of WHRDs.

In the context of increasing frequency and intensity of violence against WHRDs, it is essential to recognize all the types of violence that WHRDs experience and the gender-specific forms and impact of this violence.

At present, few protection programs for human rights defenders exist and those that do offer a generic set of measures that do not take into account how factors like gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, race or ethnicity affect the way human rights violations are experienced by a WHRD.

This set of recommendations seeks to address the need for an integrated concept of security that goes beyond just the physical protection of the individual. Integrated security affirms the importance of the development of prevention measures and takes into account the need for WHRDs to feel safe at home, at work and on the street. Integrated security integrates the physical and psychological well-being of WHRDs, their organisations and their families.

These recommendations provide specific suggestions to a variety of key actors for the development of protection measures and programmes that are not only gender specific but also sensitive to other relevant contexts or identities that affect how WHRDs experience violations.

The recommendations emerged from a consultative process which engaged a group of WHRDs from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East who defend a range of human rights, including women’s rights. They incorporate the ideas, hopes, wisdom, and needs, of the many WHRDs who kindly shared their lived experiences of defending rights with us.

These recommendations are intended to support the advocacy efforts of WHRDs and their allies to lobby States, regional and international human rights protection mechanisms, international cooperation agencies and donors, and national and transnational corporations, to contribute to the development of an enabling environment free from violence to ensure that WHRDs can carry out their essential work defending human rights.