The Southern Africa Women Human Rights Defenders Network (SAWHRDN) seeks to empower and enhance the protection of women human rights defenders (WHRD) in Southern Africa.
Women are more at risk of suffering certain forms of violence and other violations, prejudice, exclusion, and repudiation than their male counterparts. As such, WHRDs require particular attention in order to address the numerous risks that they face in conducting their work. This network will ensure gender-specific responses are strengthened as most mechanisms in the region are not exclusively designed for WHRDs and serve a multiplicity of purposes. This network will also improve the consciousness and public recognition of WHRDs as legitimate agents of social change and the public good. One possible reason for the fact that women make up so few cases of defenders may be that they do not define themselves as WHRDs and do not consider their security a priority, meaning that they are less likely to reach out for help. These complexities underscore the need to reach out to WHRD groups and to women’s groups and organizations more generally.