Act now to combat increasing pandemic-related risks to women’s rights activists

Women human rights defenders help make sure we have access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. They help run women’s shelters and sexual assault crisis centres and drop-in centres. They call out discrimination and work to overturn unjust structures, systems, and policies. All incredibly valuable work that’s needed now more than ever during a global pandemic, right?

But too many women human rights defenders around the world remain in prison, jailed for peacefully promoting women’s rights, and at increased risk as COVID-19 spreads through prisons in some countries. Too many activists and journalists are being threatened for their reporting on COVID-19. And too many women human rights defenders who are socially distancing at home are being targeted for harassment and violence because those who want to harm them now where they can find them at all times—home.

Now more than ever we need to ramp up our activism in solidarity with women human rights defenders around the world. Below are a few actions you can take now. We will add more actions in the coming weeks and months.


Saudi Arabia

May 15 is an anniversary we don’t want to have to mark. It’s the two year anniversary of the arrest of Loujain al-Hathloul, an incredible women human rights defender from Saudi Arabia who was arrested a month before women in the kingdom were allowed to drive. What was one of the key things Loujain long advocated for? The right to drive. Loujain and other women human rights defenders have been charged, jailed, tortured, and some still remain in prison, just for advocating for justice and equality for women in Saudi Arabia. On top of that, there are now fears that COVID-19 could quickly spread through Saudi prisons.

Learn more and sign the e-action calling for the release of the women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia!

Join the Twitter Storm

On Friday, May 15 (and throughout the weekend), join the global Twitter storm flooding Saudi authorities with messages calling for all the women human rights defenders to be released, and for charges against them to be dropped.

Click to tweet any of these messages or write your own: 

Today, May 15, is the 2 year anniversary of the arrest of @LoujainHathloul & other #womensrights activists in #SaudiArabia – Join @AmnestyNow & call on @KingSalman & #MBS to #FreeSaudiHeroes #StandWithSaudiFeminists  >>> 

@KingSalman & #MBS you can’t claim progressive reforms while keeping behind bars activists & #womensrights defenders #WHRD like @LoujainHathloul @samarbadawi15 & @nasema33. Release them immediately & unconditionally! #StandWithSaudiFeminists  >>>

@KingSalman & #MBA – Stop the spread of #COVID19 in prisons & protect #humanrights by releasing #womensrights defenders @LoujainHathloul @samarbadawi15 & @nasema33 now! #SaudiArabia #FreeSaudiHeroes #StandWithSaudiFeminists  >>> 

For 2 years, #Saudi women who have championed #womensrights reformed have been detained & tortured. #ActNow & call for their immediate release & for all charges against them to be dropped #FreeSaudiHeroes #StandWithSaudiFeminists  >>>

Record a Video 


Let women’s rights activists jailed in Saudi Arabia know they aren’t alone. Share a 10-12 second solidarity video for Loujain al-Hathloul, Nassima al-Sada, and Samar Badawi on Twitter, tagging @amnestygulf, @AmnestyNow @ALQST-En. We’ll retweet you and make sure the activists feel the love from around the world! 


Join Us Online


On Tuesday, May 19, join the Amnesty’s Action Network on Women’s Human Rights for an interactive online event to learn more and take action in support of Loujain and the other women human rights defenders. REGISTER HERE.


We are incredibly concerned about the safety and health of women human rights defenders jailed in Iran, most of them in the notorious Evin prison, because of an outbreak of COVID-19. These activists should not be in prison in the first place, and they definitely shouldn’t be there—and without access to proper hygiene supplies, sanitation, and medication—in the midst of a pandemic.


We will continue to post urgent actions related to women human rights defenders who are at heightened risk during the pandemic.


While you’re social distancing at home, why not check out some documentaries to support content by women, trans and non-binary people, and to deepen your learning.

The Women Making Movies virtual film festival has been extended to the end of May, meaning you can access some amazing feminist documentaries for free! Go to this webpage and the festival access code is strong-wave20. Be sure to check out “I am the Revolution” – a great film about incredible women human rights defenders advocating for gender equality in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

If you have access to Netflix search under “feminist” or “women” and a range of documentaries, shows, and movies appear including “Period. End of Sentence,” “Miss Representation,” and “Standing Tall.” As you check out the selection of documentaries on Netflix give some thought to whose voices are represented in the films, whose are missing, which films perpetuate a saviour narrative, and which films are by and for women and promote diversity and empowerment?