We must ensure safety – Hilda Stuart Dadu
Across the world, women human rights defenders continue to call for justice, peace, and gender equality – despite facing immense challenges. Still, or maybe because of that, they continue to fight. This week, we commemorate the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day 2023 and celebrate the remarkable work carried out by women human rights defenders worldwide.
Hilda Stuart Dadu is the National Coordinator of the Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders Tanzania (CWHRDs-Tz), a non-governmental organisation for women human rights defenders, as well as Secretary of the Eastern Africa Women Human Rights Defenders Network.
Being a woman human rights defender in Tanzania
“Women human rights defenders are going through a lot when trying to ensure that women’s rights and other rights of marginalised groups are protected in Tanzania. One of the biggest challenges is threats from the community and the authorities when trying to protect human rights,” says Hilda.
Hilda and her organisation work to protect and safeguard women human rights defenders by addressing their critical needs.
“We can see this need to have collective support from women human rights defenders and one voice advocating for us, for human rights. It is challenging, but someone has to protect and preserve human rights within the country,” says Hilda.
“However, when women human rights defenders are doing this, they put themselves at risk. Most women human rights defenders have been arrested because of their work. The community’s perception is that they still see women’s role as being at home. When defending human rights, it looks like you want to have the muscles, you challenge men, and the community does not accept them.”
“What keeps me going is the need for women human rights defenders. There is little recognition of women human rights defenders. Globally, there are a lot of initiatives for the actual protection of human rights, but the recognition for those who are defending them is still low. We need a lot to be put in place so that in all cases where a woman human rights defender needs support, there is a clear mechanism that provides protection and support – from the community all the way up to the national level. Another thing I want to emphasise is to ensure that women human rights defenders work in secure conditions and safe working environments so they are in a position free from danger and have the strength to continue to work to defend human rights.”
Read more about the remarkable work carried out by some women human rights defenders worldwide here.