Despite challenging socio-political environments across the Horn of Africa, women human rights defenders continue to engage in significant change and transformation in the field of women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Women human rights defenders continue to be subject to targeted repression, physical and psychological violence, intimidation and abuse, yet they continue to spearhead and lead women-led change and transformation within their communities at the grassroots level. It is against this background that SIHA Network is organizing the second edition of the WHRDs Awards in June 2021. The aim of this award is to honor and publicly recognize the important work of women human rights defenders across the Horn Region. The Award will be given to women leaders who have demonstrated courage, demonstrate leadership for women rights to influence shift in positive social change and transformation among their communities especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) is a civil society coalition bringing together grassroots women’s rights organizations from Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Uganda. Established in 1995, SIHA advocates for social change and gender equality in the Horn of Africa and works specifically on challenging all forms of discrimination and violations against women’s rights, protecting women against sexual and gender based violence, promoting women’s access to justice, supporting economic empowerment and activating women’s political participation.

The objectives of these awards are to:
1. Honor the extraordinary work of WHRDs in the promotion and protection of women’s rights in the Horn of Africa;
2. Profile the work of WHRDs and challenges they face as agents of social change and transformation;

Nomination: The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa develops a call for nominations which is then widely circulated by the WHRD’s coalition and partners. This call outlines the criteria for eligibility for nomination.
Shortlisting, Verification and Selection: SIHA Network will establish an in-country review and selection committee.
Award ceremony: An Award Ceremony will be held at Country level and an Online Webinar will be organized to profile the work of the Award winners. The webinar will be widely advertised to attract participation of CSO’s, representatives from the government, selected WHRDs from across the country, representatives from the international missions, and the media.

The following will be taken into consideration:

  • Grassroots based Woman Human Rights Defender based in Ethiopia or Somalia;
  • Proven resilience and support for women and girls including during the covid-19 pandemic;
  • Has led initiatives and advocacy actions that significantly impact the lives of grassroots based women and girls;
  • ‘Civil courage’ and demonstrated leadership, innovation and creativity in her women and human rights work;
  • Degree of difficulty of the achievement and sacrifices made;
  • The Award Winner should have a link to the community and her work should have built or should be working towards building a grassroots women’s movement;

The winners will receive:

  • A cash award of 600 Euros;
  • A plaque with the WHRDs name on it
  • And will be guests at the Online Country Webinar to profile their work

To nominate your WHRD of choice, please fill in the nomination form: and submit supporting documentation to SIHA via with a clear subject line “SIHA WHRD AWARD NOMINATION – 2021” by 14th May 2021