About 50.50

Women and LGBTIQ people have won tremendous victories for rights and equality around the world. But organised networks, backed by dark money and coordinating with one another across borders, are working to roll back or prevent more progress. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ultra-conservative, far-Right and religious Right movements that target our rights aren’t slowing down. Instead, they’re celebrating new opportunities and fighting for new restrictions – on access to abortion, for example – while claiming that the pandemic is divine punishment for sexual and reproductive rights.

openDemocracy’s Tracking the Backlash team is on their trail. Among our projects, we’ve published multi-part investigations into Christian conservative support for the far Right in Europe (including through unregulated ‘Super PACs’), and a major series on how vulnerable pregnant women around the world are being targeted with misinformation about their health and rights.

Since our launch in 2017, we’ve collaborated with dozens of other freelance and staff journalists around the world, and our investigations have been picked up by publications including The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, Grazia UK, Deutsche Welle, Telemundo, Infobae in Argentina, the Mail & Guardian in South Africa and NV in Ukraine.

Our team now has editors and reporters across Europe, Africa and the Americas. We also have a series called Documenting the Resistance, which tells the stories of frontline activists resisting the backlash against women’s and LGBT rights.

Read more about us, and how to contact us, below.

Global team

Nandini Archer, Gender and Identity Editor

Nandini Archer

A journalist and activist based in the UK, Nandi joined openDemocracy in 2018. She helps coordinate cross-border feminist investigative journalism projects. She also oversees openDemocracy's Documenting the Resistance series, which tells the powerful and empowering stories of feminist movements worldwide. She previously worked at the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion and is a member of the feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut in London.

Read her article about how at-home abortion services, introduced in the UK under COVID-19, are under threat. Follow her on Twitter (@nandi_naira), and email her with ‘Pitch’ in your subject line if you have a story for our Documenting the Resistance series.

Lou Ferreira, Gender and Identity Editorial Assistant

Lou Ferreira

Based in the UK, Lou joined Tracking the Backlash as a freelance contributor in September 2020, working on our global investigation into the money spent by ultra-conservative US groups opposing women’s and LGBTIQ rights around the world. Later, they joined the team as a full-time fellow and are now editorial assistant for gender and identity.

Read their article on how the UK’s proposed Nationality and Borders Bill has devastating consequences for LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers. Follow them on Twitter (@_LouFerreira).

Zeynep Sentek, Network Coordinator

Zeynep Sentek

Zeynep is a Turkish investigative journalist based in Portugal and Turkey. She joined the Tracking the Backlash team in April 2021. Previously, she was the managing editor of the investigative news platform The Black Sea. She is a board member of journalism network European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) and holds a PhD degree from Heidelberg University.

Follow her on Twitter (@zsentek) and email her if you are a journalist interested in joining the Tracking the Backlash network of investigative reporters around the world who collaborate with us on major projects.

Cath Phillips, Sub-Editor

Cath Phillips

Based in the UK, Cath joined openDemocracy in 2020 as a freelance sub. She ensures high production quality across the Tracking the Backlash and Documenting the Resistance projects, and has worked in publishing for many years as an editor and sub-editor, including for Time Out London on their travel, restaurant and bar guides, in the UK and abroad.

Email her if you spot any typos, omissions or necessary corrections.

Africa team

Lydia Namubiru, Africa Editor

Lydia team page.png

Based in Kampala, Uganda, Lydia is an investigative and data journalist and editor. She is particularly interested in African feminist movement building and the continent’s ebbing democracy. She has worked as a freelance editor, reporter, data consultant and documentary producer for a variety of news organisations in Africa and internationally, including Al Jazeera, the BBC, The Continent, The New York Times, Quartz Africa and Reuters.

Read her article on the media disinformation campaign threatening Ghana’s LGBTIQ community. Follow her on Twitter (@namlyd). Email her with tips or ideas for new investigations in Africa.

Khatondi Soita Wepukhulu, East Africa Reporter

Khatondi Soita

Khatondi joined the Tracking the Backlash team in September 2020 as a fellow, and became our East Africa reporter in 2021. Based in Kampala, Uganda, she previously contributed to our investigation into anti-abortion misinformation around the world and also to the team’s reporting on the effect of COVID-19 on maternal health globally and on sex workers in Uganda.

Read her opinion piece on the war in Ukraine from an African perspective. Email her with tips or ideas for new investigations into threats to women’s and LGBT rights in East Africa.

Portia Crowe, Assistant Editor, Francophone Countries

Portia Crowe

Portia joined openDemocracy in June 2021 to help launch our Francophone West Africa coverage, commissioning West African journalists to work on Tracking the Backlash investigations and other stories. Portia has reported from across Africa, Europe and North America, for the BBC World Service, The Independent, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and other outlets. In a past life, she was a financial correspondent covering Wall Street and the City of London.

Follow her on Twitter (@PortiaCrowe) and email her if you are a Francophone West African journalist or member of a civil society group interested in collaborating with openDemocracy.

Americas team

Diana Cariboni, Latin America Editor

Diana Cariboni

Diana is based in Uruguay and started writing for Tracking the Backlash in 2018. As Latin America editor, she coordinates our investigative reporting in the region. She was previously co-editor-in-chief of the IPS news agency and led its Latin America desk for more than ten years. She wrote the book ‘Guantánamo Entre Nosotros’ (2017) and won Uruguay’s national press award in 2018.

Read her article on how women’s rights supporters had no good choices in Peru’s recent presidential elections. Follow her on Twitter (@diana_cariboni) and email her with tips for new stories in Latin America.

Dánae Vílchez, Mesoamerica Correspondent

Danae Vilchez

A Nicaraguan journalist, Dánae became our Mesoamerica correspondent in March 2022, after a stint as a part-time fellow in 2021. She is also Central America correspondent with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and has an Erasmus Mundus master’s degree in journalism, media and globalisation, with a specialisation in politics. She was previously a fellow with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Pikara Magazine, eldiario.es, Confidencial and AJ+, among others.

Read her article about Rodrigo Chaves, Costa Rica’s incoming president, and how he threatens women’s and LGBTIQ rights. Follow her on Twitter (@DanaeVilchez).

Aaron White, US Reporter

Aaron White

Based in New York City, Aaron has been openDemocracy’s North America economics editor since 2019. Since April 2021 he has also worked part-time on Tracking the Backlash investigations related to corporate power and anti-rights movements. Last year, he led openDemocracy’s coverage of the US election – with a particular focus on progressive social movements.

Read his article featuring local Louisville activists demanding justice for Breonna Taylor one year after her murder. Follow him on Twitter (@aaronwolfwhite) and email him with tips for US investigations.

Chrissy Stroop, Columnist

Chrissy Stroop

An ex-evangelical writer, speaker and advocate, Chrissy Stroop is (with Lauren O’Neal) co-editor of the essay anthology ‘Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church’. A senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches, her work has also appeared in Dame Magazine, Foreign Policy, The Boston Globe, Playboy, Political Research Associates and other outlets, including peer-reviewed academic journals. Stroop has a PhD in modern Russian history from Stanford University, and is a senior research associate with the University of Innsbruck’s Postsecular Conflicts project. In 2019, she came out as a transgender woman and began her journey of medical transition. She lives in Portland, Oregon, US. Stroop joined the Tracking the Backlash team in 2021.

Read her op-ed on how anti-equality legislation is spreading throughout the US. Follow her on Twitter (@C_Stroop).

Eurasia and Europe team

Tatev Hovhannisyan, Europe and Eurasia Editor

Tatev Hovhannisyan

Based in Armenia, Tatev joined Tracking the Backlash in 2020 as a fellow; in 2021, she became assistant editor Europe and Eurasia. Now she is our Europe and Eurasia editor, supporting the production of ambitious and impactful investigative journalism across the region. Previously, Tatev worked as an editor at the leading Armenian media outlets Civilnet and Mediamax.

Read her opinion piece on the impact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has for an Armenian. Follow her on Twitter (@tahovhannisyan) and email her with ideas for new investigations in Europe and Eurasia.

Recent fellows

Roberta Scalise, 2021–22 Feminist Media Fellow

Based in Turin, Italy, Roberta joined openDemocracy in October 2021 as a fellow, working closely with Claire Provost, then head of global investigations, and focusing on gender equality and feminist media stories. She has a degree in philosophy and a master’s in bioethics, and collaborates with the Italian Bioethics Council as a journalist. She also writes about feminism and inclusion for national newspapers in Italy.

Read her interview with Angela Pezzana, founder of Italy's first LGBT movement. Follow her on Twitter (@RobertaScalise1).

Joni Hess, 2020–21 Documenting the Resistance Fellow

Based in New Orleans, Joni joined the team in October 2020 as a fellow for six months for our Documenting the Resistance project. Previously, she was a freelancer for Women Under Siege – a project of the Women's Media Center, which investigates how violence against women is weaponised in conflict and beyond – as well as Vox and The Lily by The Washington Post. Joni has also worked as a social worker.

Read her story on why Black women in the US have more caesareans than white women. Follow her on Twitter (@joni_bologne).

Claudia Torrisi, 2020 Documenting the Resistance Fellow

Based in Italy, Claudia has written for our Tracking the Backlash projects since 2017. In April 2020, she became a fellow for six months to focus on our Documenting the Resistance series. She has also contributed to Valigia Blu, VICE and Rai TV in Italy, as well as Al Jazeera.

Read her article on how thousands of women crossed Europe in 2019 to confront the far Right in Italy. Follow her on Twitter (@clatorrisi).

Ani Hovhannisyan, 2020 Data Journalism Fellow

Based in Armenia, Ani joined the Tracking the Backlash team in March 2020 as a fellow for six months. She works at the NGO Investigative Journalists of Armenia (HETQ), which publishes the Hetq.am investigative portal (in Armenian and English), and she manages data-driven and education projects at Hetq Media Factory.

Read her article on how the rights of women in childbirth during COVID-19 are being sidelined in Eurasia. Follow her on Twitter (@anihovh).

Arya Karijo, 2020 Data Journalism Fellow

Arya is a transgender woman based in Nairobi, Kenya. She joined the Tracking the Backlash team in March 2020 as a full-time fellow for six months. She has a background in user experience research and uses her social media platforms to tell stories and advocate for LGBTIQ rights in Kenya. She is a contributor to @DrFeminist on Facebook and is the new ED for AfroIDEA.

Look at the data she compiled for our investigation on childbirth abuses around the world during COVID-19. Follow her on Twitter (@AryaKarijo) and Facebook (@AryaJeipeaKarijo).

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