On the 27th November 2020, a group of Women Human Rights Defenders convened at the Alliance Of Women Advocating for Change offices to commemorate the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders that is celebrated on 29th November every year. The theme for this years commemoration was “In the uncertain times of COVID-19: WHRDN-U calls for the recognition of the essential work of Women Human Rights Defenders.”
Some of the key messages shared by Women Human Rights Defenders as they commemorated the International Women Human Rights Day
💬I am Mary Asili a WHRD supporting survivors of gender based violence from Tororo Mifumi. COVID-19 changed the way we did our work. Access to services by GBV survivors was a challenge, survivors were told not to report cases to police until the lock down was lifted. pic.twitter.com/mWlmA18HSU
Betty from Mbale, working for the rights of LBQTI and sex workers. 💬As a WHRD I was intimidated and feared to continue doing my work. Efforts to enforce curfews and lockdowns resulted into fear by women and girls to go to hospital to seek sexual reproductive health care. pic.twitter.com/651MsbWen3
Brenda Kugonza, the Executive Director of the Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda, presented a position paper by Women Human Rights Defenders on the need and relevance of a gender perspective in the Human Rights Defenders Protection bill. “Women’s unique issues and concerns while protecting rights of others should be put into full consideration as the bill is drafted.”
Rights of all individuals should be respected and reflected in the bill to ensure equal leveled ground while carrying out work. Women Human Rights Defenders across all regions from the country gave accounts of the different violations and threats they face while working.
It is important to WHRDN-U that Women Human Rights Defenders are well represented in this bill, and this was central to the discussions held. Hon Lucy Akello, who sits on the Human Rights Parliamentary committee welcomed the idea of ensuring women’s voices and rights are well respected in drafting the bill.
Mary Lamunu, welcomed the timely intervention and discussion and emphasized the need for WHRDs issues to be well laid out in the bill. The discussion held resulted in the members agreeing to champion this cause going forward in Parliament.