Launch: 12 Women on the Barricades

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee launches a campaign for women's rights in Europe.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee launches the campaign #12 Women On The Barricades, developed in collaboration with illustrator Jenny Jordahl. We present 12 portraits of women standing on the barricades for other women, focusing on the greatest human rights challenges facing women in Europe today – and what needs to be done to overcome them. 

Violations happing every day

We see the consequences of violating women’s human rights through the work we do every day. The aim of the campaign, is to create a debate on how a European human rights policy can meet this diversity of challenges”, says Bjørn Engesland, secretary general of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

Among the human rights defenders featured in the campaign you will find: 

Human rights lawyer Malika Abubakarova, who works to ensure that women who have been subjected to violence receive protection and a fair trial in the conservative North Caucasus region in Russia. 

Award-winning journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who has revealed corruption and financial abuse among senior officials, all the way up to the president of Azerbaijan and his family members. 

And LGBT activist Hande Kader, who was killed for fighting for LGBT people’s rights in Turkey, Europe’s most dangerous country for transgender people. 

Among Europe’s bravest 

The people we promote in the campaign are among Europe’s bravest human rights defenders. They have experienced threats, harassment and persecution, but they have also won important victories in the cases they work for. If we are to create a powerful human rights policy in Europe, these are the people we need to listen to”, says Engesland. 

In collaboration with illustrator Jenny JordahlNHC have prepared a campaign calendar, which portrays the 12 women and their stories. 

I am very happy to have been involved in this, but it has also been challenging. These are, after all, women who put immense risks upon themselves, in order to fight for equality and justice. Some of the stories are so shocking and scary that they are difficult to comprehend. It is difficult to convey, both in words and through illustration, how much I admire them“, says Jenny Jordahl. 

Illustrator Jenny Jordahl.

She herself traveled to Russia recently, in connection with the translation of her book, “Women in Battle”  about the organized women’s movement. 

I found that my work as an illustrator is extremely controversial there  in some cases also illegal. I am incredibly grateful for the rights we have in Norway. We must not take them for granted“, says Jordahl. 

We see the consequences of violating women’s human rights through the work we do every day.

Bjørn Engesland

By purchasing the calendar, you are contributing to the Helsinki Committee’s Emergency Fund, where the amount raised during the campaign period, will go to our work for women human rights defenders. You can buy the calendar via Vipps nr 20935, and send us an email with your address to 


Get to know 12 amazing human rights defenders and their important work through our campaign site:

Thank you to Fritt Ord who has supported the campaign.