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Letter from the Executive Director

On 23 September I sat behind Lina al-Hathloul as she delivered a statement to the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council (pg 4). Lina was there fighting for the freedom of her older sister, Loujain, who has been imprisoned for over 500 days now in Saudi Arabia. The bravery and resilience that Lina displayed during her time in Geneva was nothing short of humbling. Lina is 24 years old - yet she has no choice but to fight for her sister’s freedom. Doing so places her and her family at risk, but if they stay silent, the Saudi government tortures Loujain.

I thought that all the problems [of the world] were really far from me—but now that
my sister is in prison, I understand that injustice is everywhere…. I can promise things
will change for the better if [people] act.” - Lina al-Hathloul

Dear community, supporters and readers - I start our third quarter report with these words because I can think of no better reminder of the collective power of our voices and this movement. This past quarter we celebrated gains: New South Wales in Australia decriminalised abortion after 119 years (WM Sydney, pg 3)! and, Nuril Makun - an Indonesian teacher sentenced to 6 months in prison after recording an exchange with the headteacher who sexually harassed her - was released thanks to international advocacy (WM Milan, pg 3).

But we have also seen a worrying loss of our collective rights - the illegal occupation of Kashmir by the Indian government (pg 6), the declaration that there is no international right to abortion by the United States and 19 other member states at the United Nations (pg 5), and the continued imprisonment and silencing of Women Human Rights defenders globally.

In September we released our 2020 Strategy (pg 7) and we laid out an honest reality: While grassroots movements are the launching point of systemic change, they continue to be underfunded, under resourced, and undervalued for their impact. But we also carved a bold vision for the path forward. As always, our Global Community, coalition partners, and allies responded to the call and in the next quarter we will work with you all to produce a workable call to action.

As we look to the last three months of this year and this decade I invite you all to join the call to our annual Global March. Let’s start 2020 with a renewed commitment to collective action and solidarity. As always we look forward to continuing to listen, mobilise, and move forward with each and every one of you.

In Community and Solidarity,

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