There are brave and extraordinary women throughout the world, fighting against the patriarchy that in many countries has women silenced, marginalised, threatened and harassed.  PBI has the priviledge of accompanying women human rights defenders that fight for a fairer world, a world where rights are the same for everyone and a world where social justice is a reality.

In the framework of the International Day against Violence Against Women this Sunday 25th November, we want to highlight the tireless work of women defenders throughout the world, who despite everything, fight every day so that our rights may be protected.

In the Mexican context being a woman represents high risk.  According to the National Institute for Statistics and Geography, 66.1% of women in Mexico are affected by gender based violence.  In general violence against women has increased throughout the past years with extremely high numbers of forced disappearance and femicides in different states of the Republic.  In this context, undertaking work in defense of human rights, often in particularly masculine fields, women run the risk of being stigmatised, threatened and rejected as defenders.  The attacks against women defenders tend to be threats aimed at their children or sexist comments or comments containing sexual content.  Their public role as defenders is often questioned by the patriarchal system that does not accept that women can undertake public roles in society that represent positions of power and authority.

In this context, PBI accompanies many women that dedicate their lives to fighting for social justice and the protection human rights.  Here we highlight the two women who travelled with us to a conference organised by PBI in September in the framework of the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.  The conference took place in Brussels with the participation of defenders accompanied by PBI in all of our projects throughout the world.

Sandra Alarcón is a lawyer and works with the organisation Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Montain in the state of Guerrero.  She has accompanied victims searching for truth and justice in the case of the forced disappearance of the 43 students from the "Raúl Isidro Burgos" College in Ayotzinapa and in the case of two survivors of sexual torture, Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú.  Despite the fact that achieving justice in these cases remains difficult, Sandra continues to fight for the recognition of victims of serious human rights violations and for the respect of human rights in the state of Guerrero.

Cristina Auerbach from the Pasta de Conchos Family Organisation, is a well known human rights defender working with miners in the state of Coahuila.  She works on the case of the Pasta de Conchos mine where 65 miners were killed in an accident in the mine in 2006 whose bodies have yet to be rescued.  She supports the families of these miners and works to assure that these types of incidents do not repeat themselves and that the labour rights of miners are respected.  For her work she has received threats, harassment and defamation, but despite everything she continues to be convinced of the importance of human rights defense work and her input has been fundamental in advancing the topics of juctice, reparation and non-repetition of human rights violations in Coahuila.

PBI condemns all violence against women and demands that all incidents of violence are thoroughly investigated and the agresors identified and punished.  In the case of women human rights defenders, PBI demands that the fundamental work their undertake is recognised, respected and protected. 

In this context of violence, undertaking work in defense of human rights, women run the risk of being stigmatised, threatened and rejected as defenders