Institute for International
Cooperation and Development Studies

Western Sahara-Colombia collaborative meeting on the role of women human rights defenders in exile in the protection of human rights

Date: 2024 April 29

On 19 April, Bilbao was home to the Western Sahara-Colombia collaborative meeting. Advocacy strategies for human rights protection mechanisms: the role of women human rights defenders in exile. It was attended by 22 people representing eight human rights organisations and the feminist movement from Colombia, Western Sahara and the Basque Country.

Sahrawi and Colombian members of organisations such as the National Union of Sahrawi Women (UNMS) in Spain, Hijas de las Nubes, Mujeres del Mundo, the Mujeres al Derecho collective, the Urabá Colombia-Suiza association and the Bachué association took part in the event.

The aim of the meeting was to facilitate a space for dialogue and mutual learning, primarily between Sahrawi and Colombian women human rights defenders, on strategies for advocacy with regard to international human rights mechanisms in exile. It also aimed to contribute to strengthening the political organisation of women human rights defenders in exile and in the diasporas.

Through this activity, situations that are geographically distant but closely related in terms of work strategies were brought together, building a positive framework of exchange to identify synergies and promote networks based on the protection of human rights at local, regional and international levels.

The participants were able to identify strengths and limitations in the advocacy work related to international mechanisms that they usually carry out, as well as to share other experiences related to local organisation in their current host country and the necessary bridges with the struggles in their countries of origin.

The meeting ended on a highly emotional note, affirming the strength of believing in and creating another possible, necessary and urgently required world, based on the solidarity of emancipatory struggles and human rights from feminist perspectives.

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