International Women Human Rights Defenders Day
MATTHEW MILLER, DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON
NOVEMBER 29, 2023
On this International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, the United States honors the tireless efforts of women and girls around the world who champion human rights and fundamental freedoms in their communities. Often at great personal risk, women human rights defenders play a vital role in holding their governments to account and promoting human rights for all. Despite gender-based violence, threats and intimidation, physical and online harassment, imprisonment, and other harms, these women remain on the frontlines, committed to building inclusive, accessible societies for all people. As Secretary Blinken has said, “Defending the rights of women and girls is rooted in our democratic values of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. And when we advance equality and defend the rights of women, we improve life for everyone.”
Earlier this year, the United States re-launched the annual Global Human Rights Defender Awards and recognized five courageous women human rights defenders. These individuals play a critical role in countering and exposing human rights abuses by governments and businesses, rallying action to protect the environment, improving governance, and securing accountability. We will continue to support human rights defenders’ critical work and defend their work worldwide.
As we commemorate both the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the United States remains resolute in our support for these advocates. We will continue to work to reduce the barriers to women and girls’ participation in public life, to promote their efforts to defend fundamental rights for themselves and others, and to advance their leadership throughout the world.
Nasrin Sotoudeh – Iran
Ms. Sotoudeh is a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and leading activist. She has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 pro-democracy protests, religious and ethnic minorities suffering persecution, as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors. She has been frequently imprisoned since 2010, including in solitary confinement, and in March 2019 she was sentenced to a cumulative 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for providing legal defense services to women charged with crimes for not wearing a hijab.
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