This guidebook, Claiming Rights, Claiming Justice: A Guidebook on Women Human Rights Defenders,is an important initiative to acknowledge the valuable contribution of women human rights defenders in the promotion and protection of human rights, and to empower them further in their role as defenders. It builds on the achievements of women human rights defenders, including those attained in the framework of the three-year international campaign on women human rights defenders.
Women defenders are more at risk of certain forms of violence and restrictions, and become more vulnerable to prejudices, exclusion and public repudiation by state forces and social actors especially when engaged in the defence of women's rights. This is particularly true when they are perceived to defy cultural norms and social constructs on gender, sexuality and femininity, or when they challenge social structures vested in economic interest or traditional practices.
Since the establishment of her mandate in 2000, Hina Jilani, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, acted on over 450 cases of violations of women human rights defenders concerning more than 1,300 defenders. Over 40 of them were killed in connection with their human rights work. This is the tip of the iceberg of the human rights violations perpetrated against women defenders. It tells us how imperative it is to devise new protection mechanisms and strengthen existing ones to provide women human rights defenders with a secure environment for their work.