“The future is women.” – International Women’s Day 2024

Across the world, women human rights defenders continue to speak up against human rights violations and to call for justice, peace, and gender equality – despite facing immense challenges. Meet Peace, Dorcus, Salima and Joan – who all work tirelessly to promote human rights. Ahead of International Women’s Day, we asked them to share their message to women around the world.

Peace Monica Pimer

“My message to women all over the world is to be true to yourself. Know who you are”, says Peace Monica Pimer, from Uganda.

Peace, the founder and director of Nile Girls Forum, knows the impact empowering women can make: “It is a joy to see another woman smile. It’s a joy to see another woman access justice.”

“That is the one thing that drives me every single day to keep on championing women’s rights.”

Women human rights defenders worldwide fight every day for democracy and justice and to eradicate inequality. In that work, supporting each other is fundamental, Salima Njoki Macharia, from Kenya, says:

Salima Njoki Macharia

“We should be encouraging and lifting each other, wherever we are. Support and mentor young, upcoming women. Hold your sister’s hand, and don’t look down upon them.”

Salima is the program coordinator of the Women Human Rights Defenders Hub in Kenya. She knows how hard it can be for women. “I’ve personally grown up in a community where as a woman, we don’t matter; we’re just supposed to be seen, but not heard.”

But things have changed. “Our voice is now heard. We are at the decision-making tables now, be it in leadership positions, government appointments, or organisations.” She knows that:

“The future is women. The future is today. And the future is young girls.”

Dorcus Drijaru

Dorcus Drijaru, from Uganda, encourages us: 

“We should remain courageous and strong, and never give up.”

Dorcus, who is an investigative environmentalist journalist, knows how hard it can be for women to be accepted as human rights defenders. “The world feels there are some areas or fields that women can’t go through, especially the human rights activism role. They feel that it’s too much for the women to handle. It’s only men who can handle this because it involves criticism. It involves risks.”

But that has not stopped Dorcus. “I feel this is the right place, and it’s the right role that I want to play in reporting about the rights of other women or the rights of other people which are being violated. I see it as a calling.”

Joan Akakikunda

Joan Akakikunda, from Uganda, also highlights the challenges of working for women’s rights. “We want equality, we want equity. But then we are misunderstood. We are tainted. We are given names. But regardless, we keep on moving because we believe. We believe in what we are doing, and we believe that we are doing it for the greater good.”

Joan, a lawyer from the Women and Girl Child Development Association, ends with these words for women all over the world:

“We must not give up, regardless of the surroundings. We have to keep pushing until we are there.”

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