Three Exceptional Women Nominated for the 2020 Martin Ennals Award

Press release

FIDH welcomed the announcement today that three exceptional women are the finalists for the 2020 Martin Ennals Award, evidence that women around the world are leading the way on defending and protecting human rights.

* In Yemen, Huda Al-Sarari has exposed and challenged the existence of secret prisons and many cases of torture.
* In Mexico, Norma Ledezma is fighting against femicides and disappearances.
* In South Africa, Sizani Ngubane is fighting for access for women to education and to land.

Each year, the Martin Ennals Award rewards human rights defenders from around the world who distinguish themselves by their strong commitment to promoting human rights - often at the risk of their own lives. In 2020, for the first time the Jury nominated three women who defend the fundamental rights of their communities in sensitive contexts.

In Yemen, where the conflict has been ongoing since 2005, Huda Al-Sarari, a Yemeni lawyer, unveiled the existence of several secret detention centers where the worst violations of human rights were committed: torture, disappearances or even extrajudicial executions.

In South Africa, women face discrimination, the worst expression of which is widespread gender violence. In rural communities, they frequently have their land expropriated and are deprived of access to education and justice. Sizani Ngubane founded an organization of more than 50,000 women from rural areas in her country and has fought successfully for over 40 years for the recognition of their rights.

In Mexico, the civil population is paying a high price for the weakness of the rule of law which underpins widespread violence and impunity. Women are the primary victims, with more than 3,500 femicides committed each year. Norma Ledezma, who is the mother of one of the victims, puts all her energy into supporting families seeking access to justice in the state of Chihuahua.

The 2020 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders will be presented to one of the finalists on 19 February during a ceremony hosted by the City of Geneva which, as part of its commitment to human rights, has for many years supported the award.

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