Penn Law International

The Role of Women Human Rights Defenders: Challenges and Opportunities

September 20, 2016

Navanethem (Navi) Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (September 2008 - September 2014)

Hina Jilani
Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan; Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders (2000-2008)

In this special conversation moderated by Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Navi Pillay and Hina Jilani discuss the challenges faced by women human rights defenders and the opportunities they could take advantage of to advance human rights. Both Jilani and Pillay chronicled their struggles. Pillay’s husband was detained under the apartheid in South Africa, and Jilani was a witness to many of her clients being shot in front of her in Pakistan for charges of blasphemy. Pillay and Jilani describe the cases they had covered throughout the years, and express the need for individuals, countries, and the U.N. to do more to prevent human rights violations. 

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