About Women's Rights Group

Amnesty International USA's Women's Rights Network is headed by the Women's Human Rights Coordinating Group, an expert group of volunteers who support the organization's efforts to promote and defend women's human rights. Our work encompasses multiple aspects including: violence against women; women, peace, and security; women’s health, sexual, and reproductive rights; women human rights defenders; and gender-based discrimination. Blogging members include: Lisa Schechtman: Lisa has engaged with Amnesty in a number of roles for over a decade. An advocate for global health and women's rights, Lisa is the Head of Policy and Advocacy for WaterAid in America, focused on providing safe drinking water and sanitation to the world's poor. Lyric Thompson: Lyric is a writer and advocate on global women's issues. She has worked for women's rights with a variety of organizations, including International Center for Research on Women, the U.S. Institute of Peace, Women for Women International and TrustLaw Women, a project of the Thomson-Reuters Foundation. Tarah Demant: Tarah is a women's rights activist who began her work with Amnesty International as a Stop Violence Against Women Campaign coordinator. She is a Professor of English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
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Even The Senate Can Agree: Women in Saudi Arabia Must Be Allowed Political Participation

Saudi Arabian women face severe discrimination in many areas of their lives © AP GraphicsBank

Lately, it seems that our two political parties can’t agree on much.  But one thing that every Senator can agree on: Women in Saudi Arabia must be allowed their fundamental human right of political participation.

In September of this year, Saudi Arabia will have its first nationwide municipal election since 2005, but half of the population will be ineligible to vote simply because they are women.


What Is Girls' Education Without Human Rights?

Afghan girls at school

© UNHCR / Lana Slezic /GlobalAware

Education, especially girls’ education, is a no-brainer, right? Evidence shows that even a basic, primary education, has a range of positive impacts:

  • Children of educated mothers are twice as likely to go to school as those raised by mothers with no education. They are also 40% less likely to die in childhood.

Haiti's Women Face New Struggles to Survive

Long before a massive earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, high rates of sexual assault and other forms of violence against Haitian women and girls were a major issue. But the earthquake destroyed much of the social fabric, infrastructure, and relative stability that had previously provided some measure of protection.

© Amnesty International

Thrust into internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, having in some cases lost everything and everyone they had, many Haitian women and girls are now even more vulnerable to sexual violence.

One year after the earthquake, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) surveyed vulnerable women in an effort to identify links between lack of access to sufficient food (what we wonks call “food insecurity”) and transactional sex. The critical question: are displaced Haitian women trading sex for food in order to survive—and help their children survive, too?


Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the New South Sudan

via Wikipedia

On Saturday, a new nation was born: the Republic of South Sudan.

Formerly a semi-autonomous region within the Republic of Sudan, the new state is the result of a referendum on independence in which roughly 99% of the predominantly African, Christian or animist Southerners elected to split from the largely Muslim, Arab North.

For more than two decades, the two had been engaged in Africa’s longest civil war, a conflict in which staggering numbers of innocent civilians paid the price: 4 million displaced, 2 million killed and 2 million women raped.

A Violent Peace
Although a 2005 peace accord officially ended the war and guaranteed the South the right to peaceably choose whether or not to form its own state, violence continues in disputed territories of Southern Kordofan and Abyei.


Saudi Arabia Continues Crackdown on Women

A Saudi woman gets out of a car after being given a ride by her driver in Riyadh © Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia is making headlines again—and once again, these headlines show Saudi Arabia’s continued persecution of women.  Recently, a group of brave Saudi Arabian women made headlines for defying Saudi Arabia’s driving ban for women.

The driving ban for women makes it difficult, if not impossible, for women to work and travel, and makes them increasingly dependant on their mahram “male guardian.”  In Saudi Arabia, women are clearly second-class citizens.

For defying the driving ban, at least 5 Saudi women were arrested.

Yet, despite these barriers and persecutions, Saudi Arabian women continue to speak out for their and others’ rights.


Nicaraguan Women Demand Their Rights In Face of Rampant Sexual Violence

By Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Group

Obeygiant.com/Shepard Fairey for Amnesty International

Women and girls in Nicaragua are at risk.

In its most recent global report, Amnesty International reported on the high rates of violence against women and girls in Nicaragua, especially rape and sexual violence.  Such violence is rooted in a global culture of discrimination, which systematically devalues the lives, rights, and voices of women.

In Nicaragua, girls are especially vulnerable to rape and sexual violence.  Two thirds of rape victims are under 18, and the most common cases are for girls between the ages of 13 and 15.

Most young survivors of rape get little or no government support to rebuild their lives. The government has so far failed to fulfill its duty to prevent sexual abuse and provide care and support to survivors.