The work of women human rights defenders is itself extremely challenging. . But as Genevieve Riccoboni explains in this Net Assessment, it becomes an even greater uphill battle when they themselves become the targets of violence. Riccoboni shows how such targeted violence directly inhibits progress toward gender equality and democracy by limiting free participation and expression – severely affecting peace and security in conflict and post-conflict contexts She suggests ways in which the United States can counter obstacles in the path of female human rights defenders and provide for a more enabling environment in which they can continue to focus on the critical work they are doing to empower women.
When women human rights defenders are at risk, so are democracy, stability, and peace processes. Individual countries – including the United States – and the international community can take steps to protect women’s roles in civil society and reap the benefits of women’s public and political participation.