Thousands of activists from around the world. Hundreds of parallel and side events. National delegations from every corner of the globe. The 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) takes place from 12 - 23 March 2018 in New York, and will focus on challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.

    We hope to ensure that protection of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) as mentioned in the agreed conclusions at CSW. We also hope to see governments and people in general have a better idea of the vital role WHRDS play around the world, and the challenges facing them, to be able to address these issues in future policies.

    How you can get involved?

    1. Participate in Shrinking Space for the Feminist Movement side event in NY and online

    Will you be in New York for CSW62? Be part of the side event “Shrinking Space for the Feminist Movement with a Focus on Gender Activism in Rural Space” on 19 March 2018, organised by The Danish UN Mission, CIVICUS, Women Thrive Alliance, FEMNET. The event will be held 3-4:15pm NYC time, in the Express Bar at the UN Headquarters on the 3rd floor.

    This interactive event will bring together women human rights defenders working in rural communities from all over the world and their allies to discuss and share civic space challenges, concerns and solutions. We will invite governments and other actors who can work together to ensure civic space for gender activists working in rural spaces.

    Can’t be in New York?

    1. We'll be live streaming one of the event breakout groups and their conversations with our inspiring WHRD speakers.
    2. We’ll also be live streaming a live shooting of the Civic Stage podcast, hosted by Innovation for Change, featuring speakers from the side event and the innovative ways they’ve found to combat the closing of civic space in their contexts - from rural to urban
    3. Join us on Facebook and Twitter, via the hashtag #SheDefends and the handle @CIVICUSalliance! Tell us about the restrictions you and your partners face when working for gender equality in rural communities, ask questions, express your concerns and insights now and on 18 & 19 March. Questions will be responded to by speakers at the event.

    2. Join the campaign for women human rights defenders working in rural spaces

    This year’s campaign will focus on highlighting the issues faced by women human rights defenders working in rural spaces, and especially supporting their rights to organise and speak up.

    1. Step 1: Download and print the campaign posterfor this year, or handwrite your own! Use the “write in” option to send a message directly to your government, or the “general” version if you do not wish to call out your government directly.
    2. Step 2: Take a photo of yourselfholding your sign and post it on social media, making sure to tag @CIVICUSAlliance #SheDefends on Facebook or Twitter. Are you operating in a country in which this type of message could risk your safety or security? Then take a picture holding the poster in front of your face to maintain your anonymity and send it to CIVICUS at and we will post it on your behalf.
    3. Step 3: Participate in the Thunderclap Campaignhere. It allows people from across the world to share a collective social media message together at the same time. By signing up, Thunderclap will post directly to your Facebook and/or Twitter page at 8am EST on March 19th ahead of our event at CSW62. We think this is important because our voices are louder together! Please share the link to the Thunderclap with your coworkers, friends, and family. You’ll find more visuals and suggested posts here,

    3. Stay tuned in online

    Participate in the live broadcast of the Innovation for Change (I4C) Civic Stage Podcast on 20 March from 14:30 - 15:00via the CIVICUS Facebook page. Civic Stage explores how social change happens, and the new ideas and ways of working that are helping people and communities solve specific challenges.

    This month’s podcast is titled ‘From the village to the city, how women activists are innovating to strengthen and protect civic space.’ Show host Kara Andrade will focus on ways in which women activists are protecting sex workers and building rural women’s co-operatives, as well as #Metoo and global responses to sexual harassment.

    1.  Join us on Facebook and Twitter, via the hashtag #SheDefends and the handle @CIVICUSalliance


  • In Defence of Humanity: Women Human Rights Defenders and the struggle against silencing

    WHRDs PolicyBriefIn recent years, combined with existing threats, the rise of right-wing and nationalist populism across the world has led to an increasing number of governments implementing repressive measures against the space for civil society (civic space), particularly affecting women human rights defenders (WHRDs). The increasingly restricted space for WHRDs presents an urgent threat, not only to women-led organisations, but to all efforts campaigning for women’s rights, gender equality and the rights of all people. In spite of these restrictions, WHRDs have campaigned boldly in the face of mounting opposition: movements such as #MeToo #MenAreTrash, #FreeSaudiWomen, #NiUnaMenos, #NotYourAsianSideKick and #AbortoLegalYa show how countless women are working to advance systemic change for equality and justice. More WHRDs across the world are working collectively to challenge structural injustices and promote the realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Their power has been in the collective, despite constant attempts at silencing them. Furthermore, there have been WHRDs recognized for their invaluable contributions to opening civic space and protecting human rights in India, Poland, and Ireland. In the United States, WHRDs have won awards for the environmental activism, and in Iraq for their work in calling for greater accountability for sexual violence during war time.

    This policy brief responds to this context and highlights how the participation of WHRDs in defending and strengthening the protection of human rights is critical for transforming traditional gender roles, embedded social norms and patriarchal power structures. WHRDs are leading actions to advance sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), socioeconomic justice, labour rights and environmental rights. Moreover, WHRDs work to ensure that women are included in political and economic decision-making processes, making clear the disproportionate effects that socioeconomic inequalities have on women and gender non-conforming people.

    Download the Report