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2020 International Women Human Rights Defenders Day: Celebrating the successes of women HRDs

Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) have a leading role in protecting human rights across the globe. WHRDs put themselves at risk by speaking up against business-related harms on people and the environment and flagging risks in company operations and supply chains. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has documented that many defenders have faced greater risks and that business-related attacks have continued unabated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research found that from March to September 2020, almost one quarter of attacks were against women defenders. Prevention of attacks is crucial to eradicate business-related human rights abuses and to prepare for a fairer post-pandemic future. On 29 November, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, we celebrate the achievements of WHRDs who contribute to the advancement of environmental, labour and human rights protections and the creation of a more sustainable future for all. These are the stories of three WHRDs who are making the difference:

  • Suthasinee Kaewleklai is a labour rights defender and a Coordinator of the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN), a grassroots member-based association that works to protect the rights of migrant workers who live and work in Thailand, the majority being from Myanmar. On 17 November 2020, during the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, MWRN received the 2020 Human Rights and Business Award, which recognizes their outstanding work addressing the human rights impacts of business.
  • Osvalinda Marcelino Alves Pereira is a rainforest WHRD and community organizer from the Amazon rainforest territory in Parà, Brazil. On 25 November 2020 she was awarded the Edelstam Prize 2020 for her fearless and continuous fight and reporting activity against illegal logging of the forest, which is causing deforestation and destruction in the Amazon rainforest.
  • Nemonte Nenquimo, a woman land & indigenous rights defender, is the 2020 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for South and Central America. She led an indigenous campaign and legal action that resulted in a court ruling protecting 500,000 acres of Amazonian rainforest and Waorani territory from oil extraction, setting a landmark legal precedent for indigenous rights in Ecuador.

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