Ms. Sonhaye Kombate is the Advocacy and Programs Director at WAHRDN, an organization that promotes the work of human rights defenders across West Africa. Recognizing that female human rights defenders are the most vulnerable, she has become a vocal advocate for gender equality. She is affectionately known as “the West African Lady,” a nod to her persistent advocacy and representation of West African women at regional and international fora.

What challenges do you face in your work?

The challenges are mainly attacks on the dignity of women. The objectification of women by traditional society continues to express itself in our relationships at levels where the problem should not even arise, and where you are soon reminded that “you are only a woman.” Thinly veiled threats are common in our work.

What is the current situation in terms of promoting human rights in West Africa?

The challenges are particularly cultural, given the fact we work in a male-dominated space, which is hostile to women’s empowerment and their participation in decision-making spheres. The consequence for women human rights defenders is that they endure attacks from several sources: States, parastatal actors, their own families, the groups they work to protect. Another challenge is access to training for women human rights defenders to assist them in receiving a better knowledge of human rights protection mechanisms.

What are some organizational achievements from the past five years?

Since 2014, the network has set up a specific program for women human rights defenders. This new initiative has enabled the organization to pay particular attention to these human rights actors, carrying out capacity-building activities for them, initiating protection and security actions for their benefit, and coaching them during various pleas at the national, regional, and universal levels.

AGUEH Dossi Sekonnou Gloria from Benin


Ms. Dossi Sekonnou is the founder and president of RFLD, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable development and gender equality. RFLD conducts training for civil society activists, lawyers, and judges on regional women’s rights standards and mechanisms as well as advocating and litigating before national and regional institutions.

                             To be Continued


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *