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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The Horror of ‘Honor Killings’, Even in US

Noor Almaleki honor killing

Noor Almaleki

Noor Almaleki was 20 years old and living in Pheonix when she and her friend, 43-year-old Amal Khalaf, were struck by a car driven by Noor’s father. While Amal survived, Noor later died, and her father, Faleh al-Maleki, was later convicted of killing his daughter.

The case of Noor Almaleki has drawn attention, most recently last weekend on CBS’s “48 Hours: Mystery” program, as a suspected case of a so-called “Honor Killing”—one committed here in the United States.

And yet, while the case of Noor Almaleki has made national headlines because it happened in Arizona, so-called “honor killings” happen around the world at an alarming rate, often with little press and no justice for the victim.


After the Uprisings, Women's Rights Must be Upheld

By Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

© Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

The theme of this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence — “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women”— is a theme that resonates across the globe.  It’s especially timely in the Middle East and North Africa where we’ve seen unprecedented challenges to military regimes and repressive governments.

Throughout the region, women have joined with men in fighting against increased militarism and in calling for governmental and social reform.  We’ve seen women in the headlines of protest and revolution from Bahrain to Yemen, to Egypt to Tunisia and beyond.


Calling for Justice Does Not Make Us "Whores"

By Tzili Mor, Amnesty USA Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

Every day around the world, women challenge the status quo of poverty, exploitation, impunity, and war; they question oppressive customs and harmful traditions; they fight tirelessly for human rights.

And while they may not label themselves as women human rights defenders, their beliefs and activism often subject them to marginalization, prejudice, violence, and threats to their safety and wellbeing.

They are sidelined, abducted, made to “disappear,” and killed as a consequence of their work. They face gender-specific repercussions and risks, such as sexual harassment and rape, often with no recourse for personal justice.  Their aggressors may be state actors, police, military, politicians, corporations, their community, and even family members.


Small Arms Put Women at Risk in Their Own Homes

Photo from “Why Women? Effective engagement for small arms control”; IANSA Women’s Network, 2011

By Alice Dahle, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

Today marks the beginning of the annual international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign. Since 1991, over 3,700 organizations in at least 164 countries have participated in the campaign, which runs from November 25, the International Day Against Violence Against Women, through December 10, International Human Rights Day, to emphasize the connection between violence against women and the violation of women’s human rights.

The theme of the 2011 campaign is: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women! 


India, Don’t Let Women’s Rights Be Forgotten

A woman in Kendugudha village, Vedanta alumina refinery can be seen in the distance, Orissa, India, March 2009. ©Amnesty International

By: James Mutti, India Country Specialist, Amnesty USA

Major industrial development projects frequently promise bountiful improvements to people’s lives – reliable electricity, better jobs, plentiful irrigation, more money, color TVs, cars, all the wonders of modernity! Sometimes these materialize, but when they do it is often at the expense of people who are already poor and marginalized. Worse, the women in these affected communities typically feel the negative affects most of all.

As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, India is home to its fair share of major economic development projects – mines, power plants, massive refineries, dams, and expanded transport infrastructure. One of the biggest such projects underway in India today is a bauxite ore mine in Orissa’s Niyamgiri Hills and a nearby alumina refinery, both operated by British mining company Vedanta. The existing refinery threatens the lives and livelihoods of mostly impoverished and marginalized Dalit (untouchable) and Adivasi (indigenous) villagers, including the 8,000 member Dongria Kondh Adivasi group who hold the Niyamgiri Hills sacred.  Yet, in spite of this, Vedanta is petitioning to expand its refinery six-fold! Thankfully, the Indian government has denied Vedanta’s initial request, but the company is appealing the decision. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Poverty is a Human Rights Issue

An Iraqi woman requests more rice from a window of a soup kitchen used to feed Iraqis in need. An estimated 23% of Iraqis live below the poverty line. © Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Every year, more than 6 million children die from malnutrition.  Every day, more than 800 million people go to bed hungry.  Every minute, a woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth.  All of these tragedies have one thing in common: povertyPoverty is a human rights issue, one that affects people in every nation across the globe.

Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a day that started in 1993 by the UN “to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries.”  Soon thereafter, at the Millennium Summit in 2000, leaders from around the globe laid out a specific goal: cutting the number of people living in extreme poverty, those whose income is less than one dollar a day, in half by 2015. Half by 2015. And, though substantial progress has been made in many countries, not surprisingly, we are not on track to meet this goal. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Women, War and Peace: An Interview with Pamela Hogan

bosnian women

Bosnian women bury their sons and husbands at Srebrenica, site of the worst massacre on European soil since World War II. Photo by Kate Holt.

Amnesty’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group member Alisa Roadcup was fortunate to sit down with Pamela Hogan, Co-Creator of Women, War & Peace, a bold new five-part PBS television series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain.  The first part of the documentary airs Tuesday, October 11, on PBS.


Total Abortion Bans In Latin America Risk Women's Lives

nicaragua woman doctor

Countries around the world that strictly deny women’s access to abortion, including when such access could save their lives and health, also tend to have the highest rates of maternal mortality.

Most Latin American countries criminalize abortions, forcing girls and women to resort to unsafe, clandestine abortions.  According to the World Health Organization, “Death due to complications of abortion is not uncommon, and is one of the principal causes of maternal mortality” and of an estimated 300,000 hospitalizations.


Failing to Protect Women from Domestic Violence in the US

Around the world, including here in the US, a woman’s greatest risk of violence is from someone she knows.  And the international community, including the United States, recognizes violence against women as a human rights violation involving state responsibility.

Jessica Lenahan domestic violence women

Jessica Lenahan has become an activist for ending violence against women © Private

In June of 1999, Jessica Lenahan lost her three daughters, aged 7, 8, and 10.  On one terrible day in June, Jessica learned her three daughters were with her estranged husband, against whom she had a court-issued protection order.

Yet, on each of the eight times Jessica contacted the Castle Rock, Colorado Police Department, the police response ranged from uncoordinated to belittling.  One officer even chided her for worrying as the girls were with their father, despite the man’s known history of emotional instability and abuse. No help was sent to secure her children, and they were later found dead in their father’s truck.


Celebrate Women's Equality Day: Demand Equality!

By Alice Dahle, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

Friday, August 26 marks the 91st anniversary of the vote for women in the US.  On August 26, 1920,  Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution after a 72-year campaign which began in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York.

The struggle for American women’s right to vote was long, difficult, and at times, divisive.  The Suffrage movement split after the Civil War over whether to support adoption of the 15th Amendment, which gave black men the right to vote, or to insist that women be included before they would endorse it.  One faction insisted on universal voting rights legislation at the federal level, while others approached the issue state by state.

Few of the original suffragists lived to see the successful results of the work they started.  As a new generation of suffragists joined the movement, they used more active tactics, including mass marches and hunger strikes.  As a result, they were arrested and sent to prison, where they were chained, beaten and force-fed.  In 1971, Rep. Bella Abzug introduced a proposal to commemorate their struggle each year on August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.