Some 76 women have asked governments around the world to increase the support for women’s rights organisations and activists speaking out against injustice.
Ghoncheh Ghavami was arrested in Iran for trying to attend a men’s volleyball match. Loujain al-Hathloul is in jail in Saudi Arabia for daring to get behind the wheel of a car before the country lifted the women’s driving ban in 2018. Shaparak Shajarizadeh has been arrested three times for protesting against Iran’s laws demanding all women wear a hijab.
These women’s names, and many, many more, need to be known and remembered. All of these women used deeds and words to speak out for gender equality around the world, and all of these them faced severe ramifications for doing so.
This International Women’s Day, Stylist’s editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski has joined 75 women in an open letter published in the Guardian demanding that international governments provide more support for women who call out injustices. It’s a move to further protect the right to protest, which is the right of all women.
Through this open letter, these women hope that activists can be better protected when they choose to speak up. They’re not just talking about backlash from the law. The letter refers to the myriad of aggressions that women who call out injustices experience, ranging from online abuse and trolling to censorship.
“Every woman should have the freedom to make her own choices and claim her rights,” the letter reads. “Yet, when women speak out, attempt to have a say in the decisions affecting their lives or defend their rights, far too often they are silenced, undermined and even endangered.”
“Women are at risk of backlash, censorship and violence wherever they speak out, both online and offline. The expertise and experiences of women human rights defenders are not being recognised or trusted. Women are not being meaningfully consulted on issues that directly impact them. Women who speak out are facing all forms of violence and abuse. This has to stop.”
The letter was organised by Womankind Worldwide, an organisation dedicated to supporting women’s fight for equality. CEO Caroline Haworth said that “women’s rights are under threat like never before, with rising fundamentalism, financial crises and political turmoil.”
She continued: “Support for human rights defenders on the frontline is something everybody can relate to because they are fighting the fight for the rest of us… A lot of women put themselves at real risk of violence and harm for the work that they do.”
Stylist is proud to support this call to protect the change makers, rule breakers and voice raisers who are pushing the women’s rights movement forward.