19th World Day Against the Death Penalty – Women and the death penalty, an invisible reality
On 10 October 2021, the World Day will be dedicated to women who risk being sentenced to death, who have received a death sentence, who have been executed, and to those who have had their death sentences commuted, exonerated, or pardoned.
Extensive discrimination based on sex and gender, often coupled with other elements of identity, such as age, sexual orientation, disability, and race expose women to intersecting forms of structural inequalities. Such prejudices can weigh heavily on sentencing, including when women are stereotyped as an evil mother, a witch, or a femme fatale. This discrimination can also lead to critical mitigating factors not being considered during arrest and trial, such as being subjected to gender-based violence and abuse.
While working towards the complete abolition of the death penalty worldwide for all crimes and for all genders, it is crucial to sound the alarm on the discrimination women face and the consequences such discrimination can have on a death sentence.
The death penalty in practice
(Statistics from Amnesty International unless otherwise specified)
- Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide estimates that there are at least 800 women sentenced to death around the world.
- At least 7 countries are confirmed to have a woman under the sentence of death in 2020: Ghana, Japan, Maldives, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, Zambia. The number of countries is, in reality much higher, like in Saudi Arabia and Iran, but where there is no accurate breakdown of death-row statistics by gender.
- In 2020, amongst the 483 individuals who were executed, 16 were women located in Egypt, Iran, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
- 108 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
- 28 countries are abolitionist in practice
- 55 countries are retentionist.
- In 2020, the 5 countries that carried out the most executions were: China, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
Scroll down and find more information about women and the death penalty in our leaflet, and facts & figures sheet.
Call for initiatives*:
Wherever you are… in Africa, America, Asia, Oceania or Europe,
Whoever you are… NGOs, teachers, lawyers, local representatives, parliamentarians, artists, reporters, religious leaders, citizens,
Whatever your plans are… debates, concerts, press conferences, demonstrations, petitions, educational and cultural activities….
Take action against the death penalty, on 10 October 2021!
Join the hundreds of initiatives organized worldwide. In 2020, despite the urgent challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic there were over 500 events planned in over 70 countries around the world! You can read more about the 2020 World Day here.
Developing World Day plans? Get in touch with the World Coalition to tell us about events scheduled on 10 October 2021.
10 Things YOU can do to end the death penalty
Organize a demonstration.This option must be considered with the utmost care given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organize a gathering on a videoconference platform. It can take the shape of a webinar, remote workshop, conversation, a public debate, art exhibition or even a virtual film screening to create awareness.
Build partnerships with women’s rights organizations to spread awareness about how gender-bias is present in the application of the death penalty.
Participate in a TV show or within a community radio to raise awareness of the need to abolish the death penalty and the realities of women on death row.
Organize an interview with a woman on death row to help raise awareness on their story.
Join the events prepared for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.
Donate to a group working to end the death penalty.
Mobilize the media to raise awareness on women who are sentenced to death both locally and worldwide.
Participate in “Cities Against the Death Penalty/Cities for Life” on 30 November 2021.
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*In the context of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020, we encourage safety in your actions on World Day. Make sure your event is compatible with your local and/or national government’s regulations regarding public health and safety. We also advise the creation of a contingency plan for your activity, as policies can change quickly to adapt to the COVID-19 threat. Please see our Mobilization Kit and 2020 World Day Report for remote or socially distanced activities.