Ain’t no mountain high: Female Human Rights Defenders’ struggle

“Feminism – I don’t know why people get so freakin’ freaked out about it. Feminism to me merely means equality for men and women. It means I have every right to have my human rights respected and I have every right to the same opportunities that any men does.”


For WAPT, Nobel Peace Price Laureate Jody Williams addresses the specific obstacles, oppression and abuse female human rights defenders face. While human rights defenders are attacked all over the world, Williams argues that women human rights defenders are that much more vulnerable because women in general are more vulnerable.

“Sexism reigns. Men have run the world forever. All of the power structures that have developed over time are male-designed. Not because men sit down and say “Guys, what are we gonna do to keep everybody else out?!”. As society has evolved – or devolved – the structures of power should change to reflect society. But since it’s controlled by men, the change is still male-dominated,” holds Williams.

Addressing the challenges female human rights defenders face through her work for the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Williams contends that until women’s voices receive the same respect, there’s a need for women-specific orgs to push for it.

Reflecting on her individual journey as an activist, Williams also touches on authenticity opposite different audiences and refusing to resort to female wiles.


Jody Williams is a life-long activist and Nobel Peace Price Laureate. She also founded and chairs the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

The interview was recorded in Soesterberg, The Netherlands, on April 17, 2016.