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Press release on Women Human Rights Defenders in Uganda-Nov 29, 2016 Attachments area



Nov 29th, 2016



Join the 2016 International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

A Call for Support and Protection of Women Human Rights Defenders in Uganda


The term “women human rights defenders” (WHRDs) refers to “women who, individually or in association with others, act to promote or protect human rights, including women’s rights.


Over time, WHRDs have supported government efforts by advancing rural women’s economic empowerment through saving and loan schemes and income generating activities as well as addressing sexual and gender-based violence. They have contributed to post-conflict recovery through offering psychosocial support and trauma management; documenting women’s experiences of war; addressing women’s war-related health needs; and monitoring post-conflict programming to ensure accountability and efficient provision of social services such as health and education. “Women human rights defenders across Uganda are in essence, government partners and are responsible for a broad range of development gains. Promoting the rights of women and girls is well aligned with the goals of the National Development Plan and the dream of Vision 2040,” Helen Kezie-Nwoha Isis-WICCE Executive Director states. WHRDs have also sensitized (based on statutory and customary provisions) and supported women to enjoy their property and land rights; their rights to access justice and dignified health service provision for women of Uganda among others.


This year’s International Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) Day (29th November), set aside to publically recognise the invaluable work and contributions of women who promote human rights, comes at a time when the need to acknowledge and address the diverse, often-unrecognised risks Uganda’s WHRDs face is paramount. WHRDs are active in the protection and promotion of all human rights including civil, political, economic, social, cultural and in all fields of life including in the family and community”, Cissy Kagaba ACCU Executive Director


As Uganda’s women human rights defenders increasingly tackle physical assault, malicious targeting, office break-ins, arbitrary detention, public backlash, resistance from opinion leaders and smear campaigns for addressing contentious issues such as land conflict ; the political space, funding and support for women’s rights work continues to shrink. “The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders stresses that “Each State has primarily responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms” (9 article 2).The provision in the UNDHRD is reiterated in Article 20 (2) of the Constitution of Uganda which states that: “The rights and freedoms of the individual and groups enshrined in Chapter Four shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of Government and by all persons”. The Government therefore has the responsibility to protect human rights defenders and/or prevent any violations against HRDs”, Said Perry Aritua, Executive Director Women’s Democracy Network-Uganda Chapter.


WHRDs often deal with resistance, lack of understanding and hostility from their partners, family members, community leaders and state actors including the courts, the military and police. This is because WHRDs call for an end to laws, regulations and practices that endanger their lives and limit their activism and resist systems of oppression and those who enact such systems. Instead of being celebrated for their invaluable work, these women face immense pressure to stop their work. “Women HRDs in Uganda are more vulnerable and face additional risks such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, conviction of moral crimes and threats against their children and reputation, all because of their gender,” Brenda Kugonza, NCHRD-U National Coordinator explains.


This International WHRDs Day, NCHRD-U, Isis-WICCE and African Great Lakes Human Rights Protection Fund celebrate the activism, advocacy and courageous acts of resistance by women who promote human rights and particularly women’s rights in Uganda. Therefore we call upon;

  1. The Government to strengthen performance of its obligation in protecting WHRD;
  2. Government to prevent actions  by communities, companies, individuals states and non –state actors  that threaten , attack or try to hamper the work of WHRDs;
  3. Media to highlight and advocate for the protection of WHRDS by reporting on and recognition of the work of WHRD.
  4. Police  initiate investigations and prosecutions of the perpetrators of violations and abuses against WHRDs to deter others;
  5. The Judiciary to promote and protect the rights of WHRDs by properly and promptly adjudicating the cases of violence of the rights of WHRDs and holding the perpetrators accountable;
  6. The Uganda Human Rights Commission to provide responses to emergencies and issue recommendations to government to adopt the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders within the legal framework of Uganda;
  7. Increment of support by Government of Uganda and other partners within and outside Uganda to the work of WHRDs
  8. Ministry of Gender , Labour and Social Development to educate citizens on the importance of the work of WHRDs   

For more information:

  1. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda Tel: +256 414 699373, E–mail:
  2. Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) +256-414-543953, E-mail :
  3. African Great Lakes Human Rights Protection Fund ,







© WDN Uganda Chapter 2014