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oD 50.50 Editorial highlights 2016

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Defending the defenders! Building global support for women's human rights

The 5th international conference of the Nobel Women's Initiative brings together women peace activists, policy makers, donors and scholars from around the world. openDemocracy 50.50 publishes articles by participants framing and addressing the key themes for discussion. Jennifer Allsopp and Marion Bowman report from the conference for 50.50. Read previous years' coverage.

The distance travelled: Beijing, Hillary, and women's rights

Hillary Rodham Clinton will need to listen to the voices of women working at grassroots on the frontline, and be prepared to use her power, should she win, to defend the human rights defenders.

Hope's song: my companion in life's journey

On my way from Zimbabwe to Amsterdam I shared a seat with a man called Musi. He was curious about how I became a feminist and wondered if I was not borrowing western ideology...

Security is not just CCTV: valuing ourselves is security

It feels as if the entire world has been given over to the most perverse notions of 'safety'  that are really about death and destruction, cruelty and conflict, grandiosity and greed. 

Iraq's female citizens: prisoners of war

Iraqi woman human rights defender Yanar Mohammed spoke to Jennifer Allsopp at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference about grass-roots responses to the atrocities women are facing under ISIS.

Sabeen Mahmud: “I stand up for what I believe in, but I can’t fight guns”

Sabeen Mahmud alleviated intellectual poverty until the day she was murdered, 24 April 2015. In an interview with Karima Bennoune in 2010 Mahmud explained why she founded a politico-cultural space in Karachi.

Women human rights defenders: reigniting the embers

The profile of today’s front line activist is different to that of the freedom fighter of old. We need to see her in her wholeness. Jennifer Allsopp reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in the Netherlands.

Mairead Maguire: breaking the silence on Palestine

Palestinian women human rights defenders and peace makers, in resisting the injustices being perpetrated upon their people, deserve our support and we must each do what we can to break the silence.

A tribute to Joan Kagezi: the murder of a human rights defender

Joan Kagezi was a lead prosecutor in high profile cases in Uganda, including against a former LRA commander and those accused of terrorism. She was shot dead in front of her children last month.

Defending the Defenders: a daunting challenge

Women human rights defenders are under attack. The Nobel Women's Initiative conference convenes today to deepen the understanding of the risks, and to develop strategies to strengthen efforts to defend the defenders.

At the margins of visibility: recognising women human rights defenders

Every small act that stands up to patriarchy or to inequality, whether it is asking to go to school, or refusing to marry the man her father chooses, is an act of women's human rights defense.

Women human rights defenders: protecting each other

With the continued failure of the UN to implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders twenty years after it was passed, women human rights defenders are still their own best support and protection network.   

Awaiting justice: Indigenous resistance in the tar sands of Canada

The Nation of the Lubicon Cree is on the frontlines of environmental destruction, as it challenges the forces behind resource extraction and environmental and cultural genocide, and seeks justice for all.

"It starts with us": Breaking one of Canada's best kept secrets

A coalition of women human rights defenders in Canada is demanding an end to state complicity, and a culture of impunity in the genocidal violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people.

Iranian women human rights defenders: challenges and opportunities

If President Rouhani honours his promises and 'de-securitises' the general atmosphere, the work of women human rights defenders could lead to significant and tangible change towards ensuring human rights for Iranian citizens.

Shelters without walls: women building protective infrastructures against rape

Women from Colombia, Syria, Nicaragua and Iraq are implementing multi-layered prevention strategies in their communities against rape being used as a weapon of war, offering immediate protection and countering stigma.

Hope as a survival strategy for Defensoras in Honduras

We're living in an undeclared war, staring into the eyes of death daily. People who don’t know the kind of insecurity women human rights defenders confront every day can’t imagine how hope helps us to survive.

Hidden women human rights defenders in the UK

Without recognising the work of women who seek to protect human rights domestically, the UK government risks seeing the activist’s role as a stage of international development rather than as a core function of democracy. 

CSW: the vital need to defend women human rights defenders

We deserve that you put aside your ideological, political and religious differences and fully recognize and affirm the human rights of women and girls and gender justice. Nothing less. Lydia Alpizar speaking at the UN CSW

Women defenders of human rights: the good, the great and the gutsy

Harriet Wistrich is a beacon in the darkness that threatens to engulf the British legal system today with massive cuts in legal aid, and the prevailing culture of disbelief of asylum seekers and women escaping violence.

Claiming rights, facing fire: young feminist activists

The increased violence against young women human rights defenders needs to be matched by funders prepared to respond more directly to the priorities identified by young people. Ruby Johnson says shifting the framework of how funders work with young people is essential.

Our duty to the stranger: Remembering Helen Bamber

Although Helen Bamber has been celebrated as an ‘iconic’ human rights defender, the most fitting way to honour her is to redirect our attention to the marginalised and silenced people to whom she devoted her life. We don’t have to look hard to find them.

Kenya: the women who stand to be counted

Women in Kenya's second largest slum, Korogocho, face forced evictions, domestic violence and rape as a weapon of gang war on a daily basis. Naomi Vulenywa reflects upon her experience of living in the slum as a women human rights defender.

Women human rights defenders: activism's front-line

There is growing recognition by the international community that women human rights defenders are best placed to respond to violence against women and a crucial force for peace;  but the international protection framework needs to be made more accessible to those in need.

Positive women human rights defenders

When the world has come to terms with the reality that HIV is not a morality issue, and that it can affect any one of us, it will be time to recognize the dangerous work of these women defneders of human rights.

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