I’m finding it hard not to feel depressed with the state of the world. If you're not a rich straight white man with conservative values – you probably feel the same.
Wherever you look, 'strongmen' have taken over governments while far-right and ultra-conservative movements are gaining strength. The backlash against human rights and social justice is alive and kicking, from the Philippines to Brazil to the US.
But a new generation of young women and LGBTIQ people is rising up and resisting the tide. There are countless, untold stories of people around the world who have found creative ways to resist the backlash, increasingly forming links across borders.
Our Tracking the Backlash project has exposed the dark money, elite networks and frightening impacts of religious right and far-right movements working to roll back or block progress on sexual and reproductive justice around the world.
Now, we’re launching a new project called Documenting the Resistance to record and widely share stories about some of the most inspiring and unreported grassroots activism resisting this backlash – and building feminist realities today, despite it.
As a feminist activist myself, this project is close to my heart. Last year I met Akwugo Emejulu, a sociology professor at the University of Warwick, who urged us to take control of our own resistance stories, too often excluded by mainstream accounts.
In numerous other conversations, activists, researchers, progressive journalists and allies have stressed that these resistance stories are ‘history in the making’ that we must document now, from the perspectives of those on the ground.
Documenting the resistance should also make it harder for our rights to be rolled back – as we become more aware of how hard people fought for them. The backlash by definition means our movements have been successful.
From Sudan to Canada
In 2019, we heard from women leading the revolution in Sudan. We profiled a queer anti-racist feminist Fado duet in Portugal. Meanwhile, a young, indigenous, two-spirit activist penned a personal piece on their community’s resistance.
We worked with young women from all over Europe to record their journeys to Verona, Italy for a historic protest against the World Congress of Families, a network of US, Russian and other ultra-conservative activists and their far right allies.
These stories have given me some hope for our futures. Many of our readers and writers have told us the same. This is why in 2020 we’ll do more to spotlight protests, organisations, tactics, demands and alternative models of feminist existence.
Throughout this series we will foster feminist collaboration in how we work with contributors – and we’ll prioritise the voices of black, brown, working-class, indigenous and migrant women and LGBTIQ people leading this resistance.
This means doing journalism differently – prioritising collaboration over competition, truly valuing people’s lived experience, and working with local reporters and activists rather than taking a hierarchical, fly-in foreign reporting approach.
Help us document the resistance
In 2020, we’re looking for articles written by frontline activists as well as participatory and experimental journalism projects. These stories can come from anywhere in the world, but we’ll pay particular attention to ideas coming from Africa, Eurasia and Latin America where our Tracking the Backlash project is currently expanding.
We’re interested in local stories of resistance as well as those documenting movements of feminists building alliances internationally. And we love proposals for collaborative pieces that pair up storytellers with different experiences.
If you have an idea for this series, we’d love to hear from you. To pitch a story, email us at [email protected] with “Pitch for Documenting the Resistance” in the subject line. In less than 250 words, please tell us:
- What’s the story that you want to tell, and why is it important?
- What aspect of the backlash is being resisted in the story?
- How will you tell the story? Is it a first-person or reported piece?
- Why are you the best person to document this resistance story and is there anyone you could or should collaborate with to do this?
- Are there any upcoming moments relevant to this story that we should be aware of, and when could you send us a first draft?
As a guide, we can pay between £150-£400 upon publication of your story, depending on its length, format, and the number of contributors involved. We’ll publish frontline dispatches at around 800 words and reported pieces up to 1600.
We’re also interested in multimedia stories as well as texts. Please let us know if you’d prefer to tell your story through photographs, audio or video.
Finally, please note that we’ll prioritise quality over quantity in the number of pieces we produce and the relationships we develop. This will limit the number of stories we can publish, but we promise to respond to all proposals as soon as we can.
There’s also much more to come this year – including a fellowship opportunity for women and LGBTIQ storytellers and a multimedia series. Watch this space, sign up to our newsletter for updates, and join us in documenting the resistance.