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Women's Human Rights Program
Staff attorneys Mary Ellingen and Rosalyn Park with staff from Centre Nadya in Russe, Bulgaria (July 2007)

The Women's Human Rights Program applies international human rights standards to advocate for women's rights in Minnesota, in the United States, and around the world. Using research, education and advocacy, the program has partnered with local organizations overseas and in the United States to document domestic violence, rape, employment discrimination, sexual harassment in the workplace, and trafficking in women and girls.

Founded in 1993, the Women's Human Rights Program has partnered with organizations in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Morocco, Nepal, Mexico and Haiti. We have worked with these partners to document such violations of women's rights as domestic violence, rape, employment discrimination, sexual harassment in the workplace and trafficking in women and girls and to follow up with training and advocacy initiatives. The Women's Program uses traditional human rights fact-finding methods to document violations of women's human rights. Staff and volunteers conduct in-country research through close collaboration with local women's non-governmental organizations. 

The Women’s Program has published 17 reports on violence against women as a human rights issue, consulted extensively with advocates who are drafting and beginning to implement new laws on violence against women, and presented numerous trainings on domestic violence legal reform. The Women’s Program reports include an analysis of each country's legislation related to women's rights and of the local law enforcement system, as well as recommendations on bringing laws and practice into conformity with international human rights obligations. 

What’s New in the Women’s Program

UNIFEM Launches Global Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls

UNIFEM has launched a Global Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. The site brings together lessons learned and recommended practices gleaned from initiatives on ending violence against women and girls around the world. The Advocates developed the site's module on legislation to end violence against women and girls.

The Advocates and Moroccan NGOs Draft Law on Violence against Women in Morocco

The Advocates for Human Rights, Moroccan NGOs from across the country, and host Global Rights met in Errachidia, Morocco from March 8-12, 2010 to draft a national law on violence against women. If passed, the law would be the first comprehensive violence against women act in the Arab world that criminalizes domestic violence and sexual assault and provides for an order for protection remedy for victims.

Women's Program Director Working with Advocates in Morocco

In March 2010, Women's Program Director Cheryl Thomas will travel to Errechidia, Morocco at the invitation of the Washington D.C.-based group Global Rights.

Women's Program Director Meets with UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women

In February, Women's Program Director Cheryl Thomas attended a meeting hosted by the University of Virginia Law School with Rashida Manjoo, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women

Benefit Event for the Women's Program at Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages in St. Paul to hold benefit event for the Women's Human Rights Program at The Advocates

MNCASA Announces AWARE Award to Mary C. Ellison and Cheryl Thomas

The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) has announced that Mary C. Ellison, Women's Program Staff Attorney, and Cheryl Thomas, Women's Program Director, will receive an AWARE Award at its 2010 AWARE Event on April 7th.

Women's Human Rights Film Series: 2010 Screenings

The Advocates and the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library have announced four films for screening in early 2010 as part of the Women's Human Rights Film Series.

Kazakhstan Takes Step Forward in Promoting and Protecting the Human Rights of Victims of Domestic Violence

The President of Kazakhstan signs into law new measures on domestic violence.

Leymah Gbowee
IWD Keynote Speaker Announced

Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee will be the keynote speaker for the 15th Annual International Women's Day Celebration on March 6, 2010.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

The Advocates for Human Rights invites you to join us during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, taking place between November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women, and December 10, International Human Rights Day.

10th Anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

November 25 marks the 10th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The Advocates Submits Comments on Draft Domestic Violence Law of Montenegro

The Advocates recently responded to a request from an NGO partner in Montenegro to submit comments on Montenegro's Draft Domestic Violence Law.

Proposal Seeks to Move Sex Trafficking to the Sex Offender Grid in Minnesota

On November 19, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission held a public hearing on a proposal to move sex trafficking to the sex offender grid in Minnesota.

Cheryl Thomas Gives Keynote Address at Conference on Gender Equality

The Advocates' Cheryl Thomas, Director of the Women's Human Rights Program, gave the Keynote Address at the recent Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Gender Equality, a conference organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The Advocates and Local Partners Work to Implement New Laws on Domestic Violence in Bulgaria and Georgia

The Women’s Human Rights Program recently returned from travels to Bulgaria and Georgia where we worked with our partners as they develop strategies to effectively implement their new laws on domestic violence.

The Advocates Submits Testimony for Hearing on Violence Against Women

The Advocates' Cheryl Thomas submitted testimony for a hearing on October 21, 2009, on "International Violence Against Women: Stories and Solutions." The hearing is for the U.S. House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight.

Mary C. Ellison
The Advocates' Mary Ellison Receives 2009 Journey of Hope Award

On October 15th, Staff Attorney Mary C. Ellison will receive the 2009 Journey of Hope Award from the Battered Women's Legal Advocacy Project (BWLAP).

The Advocates Conducts Training on Domestic Violence in the Republic of Georgia

The Advocates' Cheryl Thomas, Robin Phillips and Beatríz Menanteau are currently in the Republic of Georgia to present training on “Representing and Assisting Domestic Violence Victims in Court and in Service Programs.”

The Advocates' Beatriz Menanteau Named One of "25 on the Rise 2009"

Staff Attorney Beatriz Menanteau in The Advocates' Women’s Human Rights Program was named one of “25 on the Rise 2009” by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota (HCCM).

The Advocates' Mary Ellison Featured in MTN Show on Sex Trafficking in Minnesota
The Advocates' Cheryl Thomas Featured in UN Videos
Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment Report Cited in Duluth News Tribune
Update on UN Expert Group Meeting in Ethiopia on Harmful Traditional Practices
Letter to the Editor on Trafficking in Minnesota Featured in Star Tribune
Update on OSCE/ODIHR Meeting in Kazakhstan on Draft Domestic Violence Law
Human Trafficking Op-Ed Featured in Pioneer Press
Training in Morocco on Legislative Advocacy
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