Protection and emergency response for WHRDs at risk
WHRDs face different types of risks in their work, of different intensity and levels, which is why the risk assessment and ensuring tailored by support services such legal, medical, counselling, temporary relocation, etc from WHRDN-U is crucial for their safety and wellbeing. The focus of this strategy is to build conditions and mechanisms of protection and care for WHRDs at risk (individual and collective), their families and organizations, as needed, in order to safe guard their lives, their physical, mental and emotional health so that they can continue their human rights work.
The WHRDNU on 19th June 2020 provided relief support to 27 WHRDs from various regions basing on the needs assessment conducted to find out what support they needed to continue doing their work even under lockdown restrictions.
There were restrictions on freedom of association, speech, transport, and unfavorable curfew times that infringed on their right to do Human Rights work. Therefore it was imperative that the network steps in to offer support in terms of funding to allow the WHRDs to facilitate their transport in order to follow up on their cases. A sum of 200,000/= was disbursed to each WHRD to enable them purchase masks, sanitizers and also pay for their transport to promote a safe working environment.
The WHRDs were grateful for the support as they were able to continue with their human rights work. For instance one WHRD from Kisoro district used the funds to follow up on assault cases of the Batwa women she was handling, the Woman defender for rights of sex workers reached out to sex workers who were arrested during the lockdown and provided refills for those who were on prescribed drugs like ART.
The WHRDs were also able to communicate effectively to check in with their counterparts which enabled them to work remotely. For instance two WHRDs for environmental justice & Land Rights and Human Rights respectively reached out to their upcountry teams making follow ups as well as capturing human rights violations taking place in the different areas.
They equally purchased masks, sanitizers which they used to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19 during their field visits and community awareness meetings with their area people. The community awareness was done to tackle and support women and girls dealing with gender based violence during lockdown.
With the above mentioned, we are glad as WHRDNU to have been of help to support the women defenders in continuing to do their Human Rights work in different regions of the country.