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On 8 March 2019, International Women’s Day, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament, Mr Antonio Panzeri, made the following statement:

“On this particular day, I would like to pay tribute to the work of women human rights defenders across the globe. Gender equality is at the very heart of human rights and all those addressing gender discrimination should be strongly supported,” said Mr. Panzeri.

“Women across the world play an indispensable role in advancing human rights and contributing to making and building sustainable peace. Those women who, individually or with others, act to promote human rights face significant risks. They face not only the same threats that defenders who are men face, but also additional ones. In particular, women human rights defenders are frequently exposed to gender based violence and gender stereotypes limiting their capacity to pursue their professional careers and make choices about their lives.”

“Women human rights defenders must be protected. Every woman who defends human rights should be able to do so without fear of retaliation.”

“Our common goal must be to ensure that women human rights defenders are recognised and actively supported to participate equally, meaningfully and powerfully in the promotion of human rights,” stressed Mr Panzeri.

Background

The European Parliament adopted its annual resolution on human rights and democracy in the world 2017 and the European Union’s policy on the matter in December 2018. Parliament noted the importance of providing emergency support to human rights defenders and underlined its concerns for the safety of human rights defenders. The resolution emphasised the specific risks facing women human rights defenders due to their gender.