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COVID-19 has killed thousands, infected millions, and changed our way of life. JASS spoke to our staff and allies on four continents about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives, their communities and the work they do.

In the Philippines, the message to human rights defenders is clear: anyone who speaks out could be a target. Within just 10 days this past July, 21 people were killed - community leaders, farmers, church workers, and lawyers - in the province of Negros Oriental. The use of violence is a careful strategy meant to instill a culture of silence and fear. For months, the silence was deafening until a community of local people started to come together. JASS with local groups organized an ecumenical prayer and concert for peace that drew 150 individuals and 19 organizations: young women, mothers, academics, artists, and religious groups. Creating a much-needed space, the gathering built solidarity and common ground – a necessary strategy to confront the violence together. A JASS Southeast Asia tells us more.

Our JASS Southeast Asia team in the Philippines report that after more than a decade of persistent grassroots organizing and advocacy, legislation that would guarantee protection for human rights defenders (HRD) may finally come to fruition this year.

Authoritarianism. Militarism. Fundamentalism. Extractivism. While contexts differ, the convergence of these four trends have become fertile ground for escalating violence against women and women activists around the world.

The words of Shirley Chisholm sum up 2018 perfectly: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” This year, women all over the world mobilized in large numbers and so loudly that the tables were rattling and folding chairs lining up.