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Honoring Women’s Rights Activists on International Women’s Day

In War and in Peace, Our Partners Raise Up Women and Girls

A woman holds a sign that reads "Sex education to decide, contraceptives to avoid abortion," as she participates in the Global Day of Action for access to legal, safe and free abortion, outside the parliament in Caracas, Venezuela, September 28, 2021. © 2021 AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

This International Women’s Day, we honor all the women who support each other in these extraordinary times.

Today, hundreds of thousands of women are fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, increasing the number of refugees and displaced people around the world. The stark number of women leaving their homes, many caring for dependents while also lacking food, water, and safe shelter, are a reminder that refugee crises are women’s rights crises.

In Afghanistan, women are risking their lives, fighting to regain the rights the Taliban deny them. We are with them, amplifying their voices and telling their stories. In Ethiopia’s Tigray and Amhara regions, as well as other conflict areas, sexual assault survivors have struggled to access services needed to heal and reclaim their lives. We stand with all these women.

On International Women’s Day, we stand with the women in Poland who protested their country’s near-total ban on abortion and crackdown on women’s rights. We stand with the women around the globe fighting to end child marriage, sexual assault, and gender-based violence, while working towards equal pay for equal work and family leave policies. We stand with women whose land was taken from them, and those who are educating other women on the dangers of heat and climate change in pregnancy health. And we stand with women harassed and persecuted for their sexual orientation and gender identity. 

At Human Rights Watch, we work with many powerful, creative, and persevering women.

We are with our partners in the US state of Georgia, fighting racial disparities to accessing cervical cancer health care. We work with our partners in Ecuador as they push for a law that guarantees access to legal abortion for rape survivors, and we cheer on the gains of our allies in Colombia and Mexico as courts advance the right to abortion for women and girls. We celebrated when partners in Tanzania finally saw policy passed allowing adolescent mothers to attend school, and we will continue working until all girls, pregnant and young mothers included, have access to education.

We stand with women in the Middle East and North Africa fighting for freedom from male guardianship policies that restrict their freedom to travel, marry, study, work, and more, and fighting against impunity for gender-based violence.

We are with women fighting to end violence at work, including with migrant domestic workers on ending forced labor, trafficking, and ensuring equal labor protections.

We also stand with women and girls around the world being punished for either wearing or not wearing a head covering.

The fight for women’s rights is expansive and varied. Yet we are all connected, lifting each other up issue by issue, country-by-country, region-by-region. Together with our partners, we celebrate the victories and grieve the losses. And every day, we are strategizing more ways to advance the recognition of women’s rights.


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