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Women's Human Rights

    September 10, 2018

    Take ACTION in September-October to help us make an IMPACT during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign in November-December!

    Amnesty International Canada has long been campaigning alongside organizations like Women's Shelters Canada for a National Action Plan to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence. Read this to learn more about why Canada so badly needs a national action plan.

    August 08, 2018
    Demand freedom for women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia

    By Alex Neve
    Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    Last week, two prominent and courageous women’s rights activists, Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada, were arrested in Saudi Arabia.

    No one imagined that on top of the personal injustice for Samar and Nassima that their arrest was going to spark a major diplomatic stand-off between Canada and Saudi Arabia about human rights.  And in doing so, put Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record in the international spotlight in ways that it rarely is.

    Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada are, sadly, two more in a growing list of women human rights defenders arrested and jailed in Saudi Arabia over the past three months. That includes Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef, imprisoned since mid-May.  Loujain has strong Canadian connections, as she is a graduate of the University of British Columbia.  

    August 06, 2018

    Responding to Saudi Arabia’s announcement, on August 5th, of diplomatic and trade measures against Canada, in retaliation for recent Canadian government calls for prisoners of conscience to be freed in the country, Amnesty International Canada said the aggressive action points to an urgent need for greater international pressure for genuine and lasting human rights reform in Saudi Arabia.

    Measures announced include the recall of Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador from Canada, a demand that Canada’s Ambassador leave Saudi Arabia within 24 hours and a suspension of new trade and investment.  Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry accused Canada of “overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs” of the country.  The move came following a tweet three days earlier from Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, indicating that Canada was, “Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.”

    June 26, 2018

    Today’s decision by a Sudanese court to quash Noura Hussein’s death sentence and replace it with a five-year prison term for killing her husband in self-defence during an attempted rape must be a catalyst for a legal review in Sudan, said Amnesty International.

    Noura Hussein was sentenced to death on 10 May 2018. Her husband, Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad, suffered fatal knife wounds during a scuffle at their home after he had attempted to force himself on her with the help of three other men. The revised sentence means she will spend five years in jail from the date of her arrest and will have to make a dia (blood money) payment of 337,500 Sudanese pounds (around US$8,400).

    “While the quashing of this death sentence is hugely welcome news, it must now lead to a legal review to ensure that Noura Hussein is the last person to go through this ordeal,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “Noura Hussein was the victim of a brutal attack by her husband and five years’ imprisonment for acting in self-defence is a disproportionate punishment.

    June 21, 2018

    Vitalina Koval, a 28-year-old LGBTI and women’s rights activist—and a central figure in the LGBTI community in Ukraine—has been attacked, harassed, and is in need of protection.

    June 21, 2018

    Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to drive is welcome but must now be followed by more reforms to women’s rights, Amnesty International said today.

    This weekend (Sunday 24 June) women will be allowed to drive in the country as the controversial driving ban is lifted.

    However, leading women’s rights activists and campaigners against the driving ban - including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef - are among eight activists still being detained in Saudi Arabia for their peaceful human rights work. Some have been detained without charge for more than one month, and may face trial before the counter-terror court and up to 20 years in prison for their activism.

    The women’s rights activists detained have campaigned for the right to drive and the end of the repressive male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia for many years.

    June 18, 2018

    By Monica Benício

     

    This op-ed was written by Monica Benício, the widow of Marielle Franco, a courageous women human rights defender who was murdered in Brazil in March 2018. It was originally published in Portuguese in O Globo on June 12th, to mark Brazilian Valentine's Day.

     

    June 01, 2018

    The international community and allies of the Saudi Arabian government must speak up to help secure the immediate and unconditional release of the women’s rights defenders currently detained in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said today.

    More than two weeks have now passed since a number of prominent women’s rights activists, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Youssef were arrested, and yet they remain detained without charge and incommunicado with no access to their families or lawyers.

    Yesterday, the European Parliament issued a resolution calling for their unconditional release and that of all human rights defenders. It also called for a more vocal European response.

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities’ endless harassment of women’s rights activists is entirely unjustifiable, and the world must not remain silent on the repression of human rights defenders in the country”, said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

    June 01, 2018

    Since the 1990s, women in Saudi Arabia have been advocating for the right to drive cars. The driving ban was overturned last year, and women will finally be allowed to drive starting June 24, 2018.

    But just weeks before the ban is set to be lifted, Saudi authorities have detained—without charge—and held incommunicado, some of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent and outspoken women human rights defenders, including University of British Columbia graduate Loujain al-Hathloul. At least 11 women human rights defenders have been arrested and six remain in detention. To Amnesty International’s knowledge, none have been charged with an offense. They have no access to lawyers or their families, and they are at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

    The activists arrested have all peacefully advocated for women’s right to drive, an end to the male guardianship system, and gender equality. Arresting the most prominent women’s rights advocates could decimate the women’s rights movement in Saudi Arabia.

    May 31, 2018

    Following today’s vote by Denmark’s parliament to ban the wearing of face coverings in public, Amnesty International’s Europe Director Gauri van Gulik said:

    “All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs. This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa. 

    “Whilst some specific restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion.

    “If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalizes women for their choice of clothing and in so doing flies in the face of those freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.”

    Background

    The Danish ban follows similar recent bans on full face veils in Belgium, France, Bulgaria and parts of Switzerland.

     

    May 28, 2018

    Women in Saudi Arabia have publicly campaigned to lift the ban on them driving since 1990, when around 40 women drove their cars down a main street in Riyadh, the capital. They were stopped by police and a number of them were suspended from work.

    Since then, these protests have been sustained. In 2007, campaigners sent a petition to the late King Abdullah, while the following year campaigner Wajeha al-Huwaider filmed herself driving and posted the video on YouTube to mark International Women's Day. 

    Saudi women again used YouTube to post videos of themselves behind the wheel to protest against the ban in 2011. Some were arrested and others were forced to sign pledges to desist from driving. At least one woman was tried and sentenced to 10 lashes.

    May 22, 2018

    Ahead of Ireland's historic referendum on abortion, the #hometovote hashtag has unleashed a wave of solidarity and inspired Irish voters from Nairobi to Toronto to return home and campaign for a woman's right to decide. 

    When the Irish government finally announced there would be a referendum on repealing its near-total ban on abortion, Ause Abdelhaq, a young Irish expat living in Nairobi, Kenya, was thrilled. 

    No one under the age of 53 has had the chance to vote to make abortion more accessible in Ireland. The significance of what is being billed as a once-in-a-generation opportunity was clearly not lost on young Irish voters like Ause.     

    “I'm pretty sure most of East Africa knows how much it means to me at this point, because I went around yelling at everyone "Look at what my little island is doing it's going to be great!",” says Ause, who, like many Irish graduates of his generation, chose to travel abroad to seek work and life experience.

    May 18, 2018

    Responding to reports that several prominent women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia have been detained this week, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said: “This is an extremely worrying development for women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities’ endless harassment of women’s rights defenders is entirely unjustifiable.

    “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has presented himself as a ‘reformer’, but his promises of reform seem entirely superficial as the repression of human rights activists continues unabated.

    “Saudi Arabia cannot continue to publicly proclaim support for women’s rights and other reforms, while targeting women human rights defenders and activists for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

    “We are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all activists that may still be detained solely for their human rights work.”

    April 14, 2018

    Responding to the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the abduction of 276 school girls in Chibok, Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International Nigeria said:

    “What happened in Chibok should have served as a wake-up call to the Nigerian government. Yet four years on, thousands more women and girls have been taken from their homes and forced to live in captivity, in events largely unnoticed and unreported by media.

    “The time is long overdue for the government to deliver meaningful action on behalf of all the victims of Boko Haram’s crimes. This starts by doing more to secure the release of the hundreds still being held, including the remaining Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi girl still in captivity.

    “Far more support must also be provided for past victims. For the families of those still missing, the government should open a register for abducted people, ensuring that the tens of thousands of people living in displacement camps get the opportunity to register their loved ones.”

     

     

    March 08, 2018

    A recent poll commissioned by Amnesty and carried out in eight countries by research group Ipsos MORI showed nearly one in four women (23%) have experienced abuse or harassment online, much of it disturbingly aggressive. The poll shows women are often left traumatized and anxious after encountering this abuse, which may be of various types:

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