This week's editor

Mary Fitzgerald

Mary Fitzgerald is Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The world's girls: no voice, no rights

How can we address the global threat to women's rights with no space for girls’ - or even women’s - voices at the UN? How will we design a post-2015 framework that responds to the needs of the most marginalized?

Bikinis and babas: the gender subtext of clichés about Ukraine

In a conflict situation, humiliation of the enemy is frequently gendered. Yet the quasi-Orientalist tropes through which the west views Ukraine refracts both the country’s gender inequalities and its complicated feminist movements. 

#SetHerFree: a spectrum of solidarity for refugee women

The campaign against detaining refugee women must be part of the movement against violence against women and girls. Agnes Woolley reports from the National Refugee Women’s Conference in London.

The triple whammy: towards the eclipse of women’s rights

Caught in the cross-fire of political opportunism, neo-liberal triumphalism and geopolitical adventurism, feminist platforms are in retreat. Only a politics of coalition building can avert their eclipse.

The ethics of feminist engagement: discussing feminism-as-imperialism

The responses by Saadia Toor and Deepa Kumar to Meredith Tax's article depend on a one-dimensional and tired discussion of a collusive feminism as the continuing source of justifications for imperialism.

Cuba: through her eyes

What do Cuban women imagine for their country’s future? In the wake of recent reforms, Cyd Bernstein talks to four women leaders about feminism, culture and cultivating change.

Laurie Penny on Unspeakable Things

Laurie Penny’s latest book ‘Unspeakable Things’ touches upon the unspeakable: “how sex and money and power police our dreams”, and why we need a mutiny against the social, economic and sexual counter-revolution.

Women's rights have no country

There is no blueprint for holding fast against the arguments used to dismiss women's humanity, or defending our hard won human rights. It's time to meet, to brainstorm and try new formats.

Northern Ireland’s incomplete peace: young feminists speak out

Organising around a belief in feminism’s ability to articulate and represent visions of peace and politics, a new generation of feminists is emerging to challenge the traditional rigidity of Northern Irish politics. 

Egypt: a reality too dark in which to glimpse hope?

The last known message from the Egyptian activist Zainab Mahdy reads, " It's like we're digging in water...There is no justice…I am aware of that…there is no victory coming…we are just lying to ourselves so that we can live."

British democracy and women's right to live free from violence

As the general election approaches in May 2015, women's organisations in the UK have issued the Women's Safety Manifesto. Politicians ignore it at their peril when it comes to the vote.

Young feminists: resisting the tide of fundamentalisms

Fundamentalism is a root cause of multiple forms of violence experienced by young women and trans*youth worldwide. Young feminists human rights defenders are key actors in this space.

"It takes broken bones": authoritarianism and violence against women in Hungary

Right-wing discourse in Hungarian politics is matched by the government’s regressive handling of gender issues, as structural violence against the socially marginalised interplays with violence against women.

Responding to sexual abuse in the UK: class, race and culture

The failure of police to take seriously the young victims of sexual abuse in Rotherham who reported the crime, reveals the way in which who is and isn't taken seriously ties in with who is and isn't deemed worthless in Britain.

Masculine violence: call of duty, or call for change?

The much-hyped launch of a new gun-shooting video game this month reveals the thread of gender linking socially-endorsed militarism to criminal sexual assault. Where are the social programmes that would address the reshaping of masculinity?

The right to walk alone without fear

The Reclaim the Night marches through night-time city centres tap into a righteous and rising anger, and are a way to highlight that women have a human right to live free from the threat or reality of male violence.

A choir of lost voices: the murder of Loretta Saunders and Canada's missing women

The murder of Loretta Saunders, a young scholar who researched missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, reveals the structural violence that compounds violence against women, and the stinging injustice of Canada’s 825 lost Aboriginal women. 

Women peacebuilders: transforming the system from the inside out?

Navigating between cooperation and confrontation vis-à-vis institutions of power, as WILPF approaches its centenary it must continue to avoid cooptation into a system that produces the violence it abhors.

The Antis: anti-imperialist or anti-feminist?

A recent article on "imperialist feminism" accuses the US women's movement of being a cheerleader for American empire from the war in Afghanistan to the present. Is this a sectarian strategy that misses the target and attacks the liberals instead of the right?

Is denying a visa to Julien Blanc the wrong strategy?

More than 275,000 people have signed online petitions to stop Julien Blanc from entering the UK. Banning undesirables from entering Britain by invoking immigration laws has a long history, but is this the best way to tackle Blanc's racism and sexism?

A global sisterhood

A global feminism that transcends narrow national, cultural, religious and social boundaries is crucial. Radha Bhatt says that if feminism is to mean anything it must extend solidarity to those who are resisting oppression in a variety of different contexts.

The right to feel safe in public: addressing the root cause of sexual harassment

A new poll reveals that 19% of women in London have been physically abused and 32% have been verbally harassed on public transport. The behaviour of perpetrators should be tackled, rather than the freedom of women curtailed. It's time to involve women in designing safe transport.

It's time for feminists to Get In, not Lean In.

The practice of patriarchy as a form of social governance has brought us to the brink of a planet crisis. The current model is bankrupt. In the run up to the UK general election in 2015, Finn Mackay urges feminists to engage in all forms of political participation.

A safe space to reclaim ‘normal’

When a distorted ‘normal’ oppresses our daily lives and experiences, Ché Ramsden says that feminist conferences like Feminism in London 2014 are not only useful for education and discussion, planning and strengthening activism, but are excellent forms of respite from mainstream misogyny.

Missing and murdered: Am I next?

Canada offers its Indigenous women a quality of life degraded by disproportionate danger, fear, and aggression. As a country we must hold ourselves accountable for this caustic legacy of colonialism.

Claiming rights, facing fire: young feminist activists

The increased violence against young women human rights defenders needs to be matched by funders prepared to respond more directly to the priorities identified by young people. Ruby Johnson says shifting the framework of how funders work with young people is essential.

Being Malala

Recipients of humanitarian awards often invite controversy. In Pakistan, religious and political identities are valued more than the contributions of such recipients. Malala Yousafzai may have the Nobel Peace Prize, but she remains the target of criticism from Pakistani conservatives and also many 'progressives'.

Power and solidarity at the grassroots

In an age of professionalization, both of politicians and of activists, the journey of self-taught politicization of the Focus E15 mothers is a remarkable one – and an example of genuine, grass-roots politics in Britain. 

Redecorate, repopulate: what next for the E15 mums?

A group of young mothers have petitioned local government and occupied abandoned homes in Newham, London, calling for ‘social housing not social cleansing’. Here they discuss the growing movement to combat the housing crisis and prevent evictions.

A once in a lifetime chance to protect the world's girls

Every day, we see more headlines documenting the severe rights abuses girls suffer. The primary cause of death for girls age 15-19 is now suicide. As UN leaders open the debate on the next frontier of global development, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to protect the human rights of girls.

The power of stories: raising the profile of African women’s cultural production

"I’m concerned about the fact that we download a lot about ourselves yet upload very little into mainstream media, no matter which media we are talking about”, Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, Nigerian filmmaker and writer, speaks to Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah about her passion for all forms of creativity.

Guerilla woolfare: against the madness of mutually assured destruction

Rolling out a seven mile knitted pink peace scarf between the Atomic Weapons Establishment complexes at Aldermaston and Burghfield on Nagasaki Day may sound crazy. It isn't as insane as letting the UK government spend another £100 billion on building a new nuclear weapons system to replace Trident.

Calling from the margins: ending child and early forced marriage in the UK

Ending forced marriage and FGM within a generation cannot be done without addressing the harder issues, such as the impact of austerity measures, immigration controls and religious fundamentalisms. Hannana Siddiqui reports on the concerns of BME groups for women following the GIRL Summit last week.

Is that what we fought for? Gaddafi's legacy for Libyan women

Women played a largely unreported role in last year’s revolution in Libya. Now they have to fight both Islamist and secular men if they’re to have any influence in the new Libya, says Lindsey Hilsum.

'Victim' vs 'Survivor': feminism and language

Rahila Gupta argues that the term ‘victim’ needs to be reclaimed by feminist politics; whilst 'survivor' is important because it recognises the agency of women, it focuses on individual capacity, but the notion of 'victim' reminds us of the stranglehold of the system.

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