Cuso International joins call to support women human rights defenders



November 6, 2018

– Cuso International joined more than 165 Canadian and global organizations to call for further global action to recognize, protect and support women human rights defenders and women’s movements.

The appeal was made during the first-ever summit of women foreign ministers hosted by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and her European Union counterpart Federica Mogherini, in early fall.

Women human rights defenders and women’s rights movements are frequently targeted because their activism is seen as challenging traditional gender norms—such as defending sexual and reproductive health rights and advocating for the rights of women and girls.

They are also more at risk of experiencing human rights violations, gender-based and sexual violence, threats, harassment and defamation campaigns linked to their status as women. Those risks are compounded for women whose ethnicity, religion, caste, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, nationality, Indigenous identity or disability exposes them to multiple and intersecting forms of marginalization.

“Cuso International is proud to support this global call to action to recognize, protect and support women human rights defenders and women’s rights movements,” said Sarah Pentlow, Cuso International Global Lead for Gender Equality and Social Inclusion. “All women deserve equality, security and to be heard without risking their safety, their livelihoods or their lives.”

The global call for action requests foreign ministers commit to the following:

•   Explicitly recognize the legitimacy of women human rights defenders and women’s movements, and publicly support and acknowledge their contribution to the realization of more peaceful, just and inclusive societies worldwide.
•   Ensure a safe and enabling environment for women human rights defenders and women’s movements, supported by legislation, social programs, public institutions and accountability mechanisms at all levels.
•   Support, strengthen and fund women’s movements, and defend their right to engage in public life and discourse without fear of punishment, reprisal or intimidation.

The contributions to public debate and decision-making by women human rights defenders and women’s movements should be celebrated, not criminalized. They must be recognized and supported globally.


Cuso International
Cuso International is a non-profit development organization that works to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of highly skilled volunteers, collaborative partnerships and compassionate donors. Established in 1961, Cuso International is a registered charity in Canada and the United States. Funds raised have enabled more than 15,000 volunteer placements around the world.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.

Registered charitable numbers:
Canada: 81111 6813 RR0001
United States: EIN 30-0545486

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