News Release: New online campaign launched by Global Fund for Women, JASS, and MADRE highlights women human rights defenders globally

For immediate release


With art and calls to action, DefendHer spotlights the risks and successes of women activists

September 7, 2016

“I really believe that as someone who has survived and lived through injustice it’s my duty to react and to do right against the injustice. I am fighting for the right to a dignified life, free of violence. A life where connections are made based on compassion, solidarity, and creativity.” – Azra Causevic, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Global Fund for Women, JASS (Just Associates), and MADRE today launched Women Human Rights DefendHer: Standing Together for Justice. This online campaign features the stories of women activists who defend and advance human rights around the world, despite threats and retaliation. DefendHer presents original illustrations of fourteen women activists and groups by Peruvian feminist visual artist María María Acha-Kutscher.

Acha-Kutscher’s powerful artwork brings to life the stories of the fourteen women human rights defenders and groups from around the world who are working to end violence against women; protect the planet; demand respect for the rights of indigenous communities; advance sexual and reproductive rights; and more.

The Women Human Rights DefendHer campaign highlights the critical work of these activists, as well as the threats that women human rights defenders face because of their work and gender. DefendHer demonstrates the bold steps toward justice being made by the grassroots women’s and human rights groups that Global Fund for Women, JASS, and MADRE support and partner with.

“Women human rights defenders work tirelessly to advance human rights for all of us, often in the face of extreme danger and threats of violence,” says Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO of Global Fund for Women. “Through DefendHer, we want to elevate the voices of bold women activists whose stories have not been told using the power of art to raise awareness. With rising threats against women who stand up for all of our rights, it is more critical than ever to support them and drive solidarity with women’s movements.”

“Each time these defenders come under attack is an assault on the bold and brave vision that they embody—a world where all rights are upheld and people live in safety and freedom,” says Yifat Susskind, Executive Director of MADRE. “These activists have faced down stigma, harassment, and violence, and they’ve stood up for women and communities in danger. These fourteen women and women’s groups are not alone, thanks to countless courageous activists like them in movements worldwide; and they’re not alone thanks to people who rally to support this campaign.”

“Women human rights defenders play a critical but often invisible role in advancing justice and upending inequality in all its forms,” says Lisa VeneKlasen, Executive Director of JASS (Just Associates). “With growing political extremism and restrictions on civil society groups, they face systematic attacks intended to silence them. Dozens have been killed or jailed for speaking out about sex, for defending rivers, and for exposing corruption. Through DefendHer we’re bringing their critical role and risks to light in hopes that we all stand up in supporting and respecting their safety and voice.”

DefendHer calls on its audience to take action to support the activists featured in the campaign: donate to the Women Human Rights DefendHer campaign to support their work, send a #DearDefendHer message of solidarity, and sign onto petitions that support and strengthen individual defenders’ work.

The following women and groups are featured in the DefendHer campaign:

  • Marta Alanis, Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito, Argentina
  • Alia Almirchaoui, Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Iraq
  • Khadrah AlSana, Sidreh, Israel
  • Bai Bibyaon, Sabokahan, The Philippines
  • Azra Causevic, LGBTIQA Association Okvir, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Melania Chiponda, Chiadzwa Community Development Trust; WoMin AfricanGender and Extractives Alliance, Zimbabwe
  • Leduvina Guill, Wangki Tangni, Nicaragua
  • Magdalena Kafiar, Papuan Women Solidarity for Human Defender, Indonesia
  • Miriam Miranda, Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH), Honduras
  • Irina Maslova, Silver Rose, Russia
  • Honorate Nizigiyimana, DAGROPASS, Burundi
  • Tin Tin Nyo, Burmese Women’s Union, Burma
  • Ana Sandoval, Peaceful Resistance La Puya, Guatemala
  • Group, FUNDEM and Marcha de las Madres, Mexico



Global Fund for Women is one of the world’s leading foundations for gender equality, standing up for the human rights of women and girls. It campaigns for zero violence, economic and political empowerment, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Global Fund for Women uses its powerful network to rally advocates, raise money, and get support to where it’s most urgently needed. It funds and partners with women-led groups who are courageously fighting for justice in their own communities. This rights-based approach gets to the root of gender inequality and is the most effective way to create permanent social change.

Since 1987, Global Fund for Women has invested in nearly 5,000 grassroots groups in 175 countries, helping to win rights for millions of women and girls.

ABOUT JASS (Just Associates)

As a global women-led human rights network of activists, popular educators and scholars in 26 countries, JASS (Just Associates) equips women leaders with the confidence, information, and skills to be better organized, louder, and safer as they tackle some of the most critical issues of our time. Working alongside diverse women and organizations, JASS’ agile regional and international structure is designed to support grassroots organizing as well as local-to-global solidarity and action, placing frontline activists’ voices and solutions at the heart of broader social justice agendas. Founded in 2002 as a community of practice, JASS’ feminist movement-building combines innovative learning, organizing, and action that equips and energizes activists, builds alliances, and mobilizes women’s movements for greater political influence, while ensuring their safety in an increasingly risky world.


MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization. Founded in 1983, the organization partners with grassroots women’s groups worldwide facing war and disaster. It meets urgent needs in communities and builds lasting solutions to the crises women face. By combining these approaches, MADRE advances women’s human rights and creates lasting social change.

MADRE works with grassroots partners to meet basic needs for food, clean water, health care, and more. When local women provide these vital services to their community, they build new skills and step up as leaders. MADRE strengthens women’s organizations, providing practical knowledge, ongoing support, advocacy training, and access women need to step up as leaders and win rights for themselves and their communities—locally, nationally, and globally. Since 1983, MADRE has developed 88 partnerships with strong, local sister organizations in over 25 countries worldwide.