Ugandan women's rights defender Rita Aciro has been named winner of the EU Human Rights Defenders' Award for 2021.
This was in recognition of her outstanding work advancing the role of girls and women in all aspects of life in Uganda. For years, she worked on women's land rights, those at the margins as well as peace building, economic rights and access to justice.
In the past year, Aciro has played a leading role in promoting the rights of women during Uganda's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and during the recently-concluded election period.
Because of her work to advance women's rights and democratic freedoms, Aciro endured her organisation's bank account being frozen for several months.
Courage and determination
Speaking at the award ceremony on April 29, Matthias Schauer, the ambassador of Germany to Uganda, said: "Human rights need to be defended all over the world for the marginalised have a hard time in many countries.
"Fortunately, there are people with courage and determination to speak out for human rights and in particular for disadvantaged groups and support them to overcome many obstacles. To do this, they often make great personal sacrifices."
Aciro said it was an honour to accept it "on behalf of the invisible human/women rights defenders in the homes, communities and public spaces who may never have such an opportunity to hug the spotlight and stage but still do a credible job giving voice to women and girl's rights."
The immediate former winner was Aimé Moninga (2020), Founder of Men of Hope and an advocate for the rights of male survivors of sexual violence in conflict.