Today, the United States commemorates the work of women human rights defenders: women and girls, in all their diversity, who champion human rights for all. As President Biden said, “The world is more peaceful, safe, and prosperous when the human rights of women are respected, and they can fully participate in economic, social, and political life.” Women, in all their diversity, offer unique contributions, including to making and keeping peace in countries around the world. Those contributions lead to better outcomes not just for women, but for society as a whole.
Women human rights defenders are often on the receiving end of multiple and intersecting forms of gender-based discrimination and violence, compounded by other attributes, such as race, religion, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, sex characteristics, or socioeconomic status. Acts of gender-based harassment, threats, and abuse create barriers to women’s full and equal participation in democracy and civic life. These acts can also have a chilling effect, leading to self-censorship and disengagement of women and girls from public life and discouraging them from pursuing their political and civic ambitions.
Despite these challenges, women human rights defenders are leading the charge globally on issues that affect everyone, including combating authoritarianism, championing democracy and equal political participation, seeking accountability and justice for human rights abuses and violations, defending free and independent media, pushing for climate crisis solutions, and working to build a more sustainable future for all.
On this International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, the United States commits to continuing to work with partners and allies to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and strengthen the representation of women around the world, including addressing systemic barriers to women’s participation in politics and public life. We remain resolute in our commitment to champion and support women human rights defenders, in all their diversity, and continue to promote the critical role they play in advocating for and securing the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.