Exclusive conference coverage from openDemocracy 50.50: Ndana Bofu-Tawamba writes At the margins of visibility: recognising women human rights defenders for our Defending the Defenders conference.
The term “women human rights defenders” (WHRDs) is one that is often measured or judged by a woman’s occupation, the educated strategies she employs, or her level of involvement. A woman’s visibility on national, regional and international human rights media platforms and conferences often wins her recognition as a WHRD, rather than her small-scale daily activism challenging patriarchal religious and cultural norms and attitudes that subordinate, stigmatize, and restrict women’s potential to thrive.
WHRDs span all levels of activism, joined together by their mutual concerns for achieving justice, liberty, peace, inequality and inequity. They manifest in diverse forms; from community and traditional leaders, market women, teachers, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and LGBTI activists who defend social and economic rights – to indigenous women, lawyers, journalists, and academics to advance political and civil rights.
These are defenders who are often overlooked because they don’t fit neatly into the orthodox or ideal definition. Whether as an individual or collective, in the private or public arena, these women are fracturing patriarchal attitudes, systems and structures that are embedded in every facet of our lives. It is vital that human/women’s rights organizations and the international community remain nimble and forward looking in recognising these women as WHRDs.
openDemocracy 50.50 has been covering the Nobel Women’s Initiative biennial conferences since 2007 in articles written by participants and openDemocracy’s own authors. Visit their website for more coverage of our 2015 International Conference: Defending the Defenders.