International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

November 29 | Paying tribute to to the hundreds of thousands of women who courageously defend women’s human rights, as well as all those who work for equality in every sphere of society

Berta Caceres led her indigenous Lenca community to stand up for their rights against dam builders.
Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize

Teachers: Visit the free MY HERO Lesson Plan for International Women Human Rights Defenders Day. Includes discussion guide and learning outcomes.

Watch the following films about women heroes who are human rights defenders. 

Berta Caceres was an indigenous leader of the Lenca people in Honduras and fought for their land rights. Tragically, she was assassinated.


Maxima Acuña is a woman human rights defender in Peru who also stood up for the land rights of her community, facing threats from a mining corporation.

Mother of All Rivers

Produced by:Will Parrinello
Berta Cáceres rallied her indigenous Lenca people to wage a grassroots protest that successfully pressured the government of Honduras and the world's largest dam builder to withdraw from building the Agua Zarca Dam.

Water Song

Produced by:Mill Valley Film Group/Will Parrinello
Máxima Acuña, a subsistence farmer in Peru’s northern highlands, stood up to Newmont Mining Corporation!

The following two short films address violence against women. One is a speech by Alyse Nelson of Vital Voices, speaking out against the epidemic of violence against women and for the rights of women everywhere. The second is a PSA about protecting women from violence in India.

Alyse Nelson of Vital Voices speaks out on violence against women


Alyse Nelson of Vital Voices makes an impassioned call to change culture and end the global crisis of violence against women.

Women Rights - PSA

Produced by:Rajat Diwan
A PSA calling for better ways to protect women in India.


These heroes are standing up for the rights of women around the world.

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe

By: Jane Wallace
Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe works to end violence and sexual exploitaton in Uganda.

Samar Minallah Khan, “Savior of the Souls”

By: Abigail Richardson

Nadia Murad

By: Rachel Wei

Nadia Murad won the Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights activism, following her kidnapping and escape from the Islamic State in Kocho.

Hazviperi Betty Makoni

By: Wendy Jewell
Hazviperi Betty Makoni founded the Girl Child Network to transform lives.

MY HERO honors Human Rights activist Malala Yousafzai with 2012 MEDIA AWARD

Hazviperi Betty Makoni

By: Wendy Jewell
Hazviperi Betty Makoni founded the Girl Child Network to transform lives.

Pashtana Durrani

By: Deborah Neff
Pashtana Durrani, who received the Malala Fund Education Champion award for her work on behalf of education for Afghan girls, is determined to continue providing educational opportunities for women and girls, even if she has to resist the Taliban and go underground.

Samar Minallah Khan, Documentary Filmmaker and Human Rights Activist

By: Abigail Richardson

Yasmine Sherif: Global Educator and Champion for Youth

By: Shannon Luders-Manuel
Yasmine Sherif, who leads Education Cannot Wait, is an activist working for the rights of all children and the winner of MY HERO's 2020 Global Educator Award.

Melinda Gates

By: Wendy Jewell
Melinda Gates continues to make empowering women and girls her life's work.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

By: Claire Parmley

Shirin Ebadi

By: Chloe McGee
Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer and former judge, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for fighting for the rights of women, children and refugees.

Stories from the Christian Science Monitor

Mallika Dutt

By: Leslie Garrett <br> Contributor of <br>The Christian Science Monitor<br> <h5...
Mallika Dutt found help in her work to end violence against women. She recruited men.

Dallas Jessup made 'Just Yell Fire' to teach young women to defend themselves

By: Gail Wood <br> Contributor of <br>The Christian Science Monitor<br> <h5>Perm...
Dallas Jessup was just a teenager when she made the video 'Just Yell Fire.' Today she's continuing that mission to help girls and young women stay safe.

Mobilizing Young Men in India to End Violence Against Women

By: Anna da Costa<br> Thomson Reuters Foundation <br> <h5>Permission to use this...
A small but growing number of organizations in India are tackling gender-based violence at its root, making men a central part of the solution.

Listen & Read Along

The following stories have links so you can hear the audio as you read. Great for ESL students!

Dorothy Height

By: Yajahira from Las Vegas
Dorothy Height was one of the most influential women of the civil rights movement and was important for including women's rights as well as African American rights.

Maria Bashir

By: Mena from San Diego
Maria Bashir is an Afghani prosecutor and advocate for women.


Tom Block founded the Human Rights Painting Project to showcase  defenders of women's human rights around the world.

Originally an attorney, artist and playwright Tom Block has raised awareness for human rights in his paintings and multimedia performances.

Meena Keshwar Kamal

By: Tom Block

Meena Keshwar Kamal worked to empower the women of Afghanistan. In 1977 she founded the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) to provide education, shelter, and healthcare to Afghani refugees.

Jacqueline Moudeina - Human Rights Painting Project

By: Tom Block
Jacqueline Moudeina has received numerous death threats — unintended consequences of her distinction as one of Chad's most prominent human rights lawyers

Irene Fernandez

By: Tom Block
The Human Rights Painting Project has identified Irene Fernandez as an activist who reported on human rights abuses and was incarcerated as a result of her work

Related Pages

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

To raise public awareness of violence against women.

Women's History Month | March

The My Hero Project celebrates Women's History Month by featuring women heroes who have advanced women's rights and broken barriers.

Women's Equality Day

By: Becky Miller

Beginning in 1971, Rep. Bella Abzug instituted a date to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in 1920, which gave U.S. women full voting rights.

External Links

Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Visit the MY HERO Calendar

Share Your Hero Essays, Films and Art through our Create Program

Outstanding essays submitted to MY HERO will be considered for a certificate/t-shirt prize or be featured on the Story Homepage.

Submit your artwork to be entered in the MY HERO art contest or to be exhibited on our Gallery Homepage.

Students can submit their films for free with a waiver to the MY HERO International Film Festival.

Organizer created on 10/2/2019 3:52:02 PM by Xenia Shin

Last edited 10/29/2023 2:09:37 PM by Abigail Richardson