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 crisis, 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. Over the last year, 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, NV in Ukraine, Infobae in Argentina and the Mail & Guardian in South Africa.
Our team now has editors and reporters across Europe, Africa and the Americas. We also have a new series called Documenting the Resistance that tells the stories of frontline activists resisting the backlash against women’s and LGBTIQ rights. Read more about us, and how to contact us, below.
Claire Provost, Global Investigations Editor
Based in Italy, Claire joined openDemocracy in 2017 as its new gender and sexuality editor, and launched an investigative series that became our global Tracking the Backlash project. Previously, Claire worked at the UK Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) and the Guardian, following the money and tracking the role of big corporations in international development.
Read her op-ed for Al Jazeera about some of the most pressing threats – and potential opportunities – for women’s rights during COVID-19. Follow her on Twitter (@ClaireProvost) and email her if you have a tip or idea for an ambitious investigation, or if your outlet would like to collaborate with us.
Nandini Archer, Global Commissioning Editor
Nandini is based in the UK and joined openDemocracy in 2018. Now she supports cross-border investigations and leads our work with frontline activists to tell their own stories of grassroots resistance. 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 op-ed on how the UK domestic violence crisis has been a decade in the making, with politicians ripping the safety net to pieces. 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.
Diana Cariboni, Latin America Commissioning Editor
Diana is based in Uruguay and started writing for Tracking the Backlash in 2018. Now she coordinates our investigative reporting in Latin America. She was previously co-editor-in-chief of the IPS news agency and led its Latin America desk for more than 10 years. She wrote the book ‘Guantánamo Entre Nosotros’ (2017) and won Uruguay’s national press award in 2018.
Read her article on promises by authorities in both Ecuador and Costa Rica to investigate health-related misinformation targeting pregnant women, following openDemocracy’s report. Follow her on Twitter (@diana_cariboni) and email her with tips for new stories in Latin America.
Lydia Namubiru, Africa Editor
Based in Uganda, Lydia joined Tracking the Backlash in 2019 and leads our investigations in Africa, collaborating with freelance and other journalists and media outlets across the continent. She is a data journalist and recently worked for the BBC World Service as an investigative documentary producer, and as a trainer for the African Centre for Media Excellence.
Read her op-ed for the Guardian about how Africans facing coronavirus must not suffer the injustices they experienced with AIDS. Follow her on Twitter (@namlyd) and email her with ideas for new investigations in Africa.
Kerry Cullinan, Health Editor
Based in South Africa, Kerry joined openDemocracy in 2019 and focuses on how the backlash impacts health and healthcare systems and policies internationally. She previously ran Health-e News, one of the first independent non-profit news agencies in Africa, for 14 years and supervised the establishment of South Africa's first network of citizen journalists.
Read her article on how US-linked anti-abortion centres in South Africa are violating the law. Follow her on Twitter (@kerrycullinan11) and email her with ideas for Tracking the Backlash healthcare and health policy investigations.
Teddy Wilson, US Investigations Editor
Teddy, based in Texas, joined the Tracking the Backlash team in June 2020 to lead our investigations in the United States. Previously, Teddy was a research analyst at Political Research Associates and a staff reporter at Rewire. He also previously worked as a reporter for The American Independent News Network and Free Speech Radio News.
Inge Snip, 2020-2021 Commissioning Fellow
Inge is a Dutch multimedia journalist who has been based in Georgia since 2012. She also joined the team in March 2020 as a fellow focused on the health impacts of the backlash against women’s and LGBTIQ rights in Eurasia. From September 2020 to March 2021 she will develop her commissioning skills with Tracking the Backlash and openDemocracy’s oDR section. Previously, Inge worked as Coda Story’s Impact Editor. She has also worked with organisations including UNDP and UNICEF.
Read her article on how Georgia’s domestic violence numbers don’t add up, and even experts don’t believe them. Follow her on Twitter (@lingelien) and email herwith tips for new Tracking the Backlash stories in Eurasia.
Tatev Hovhannisyan, 2020-2021 Investigations Fellow
Based in Armenia, Tatev also joined the team in March 2020 as a fellow investigating the health impacts of organised opposition to women’s rights in Eurasia. From September 2020 to March 2021 she will further develop her investigative skills with Tracking the Backlash and openDemocracy’s Dark Money team. Previously, she worked at leading Armenian media outlets Civilnet and Mediamax. In 2018, she co-founded ANTA Production, a multimedia journalism company with a special focus on women’s rights.
Read her article about an Armenian website spreading misinformation and its US funding. Follow her on Twitter (@tahovhannisyan) and email her with ideas for a new Tracking the Backlash investigation in Eurasia.
Claudia Torrisi, 2020 Documenting the Resistance Fellow
Based in Italy, Claudia has written for our Tracking the Backlash project since 2017. In April 2020 she joined the team part-time for six months to focus on our Documenting the Resistance series, which tells the stories of women and LGBTIQ people resisting the backlash. She has also contributed to Valigia Blu, VICE and Rai TV in Italy, as well as Al Jazeera English.
Read her article on how thousands of women crossed Europe last year to confront the far-right in Italy. Follow her on Twitter (@clatorrisi) and email her with ideas for new stories for our Documenting the Resistance series.
Khatondi Soita Wepukhulu, 2020-2021 East Africa Investigative Reporting Fellow
Ugandan-based Khatondi joined the Tracking the Backlash team in September 2020 as a full-time fellow for six months. She has worked as a freelance contributor to the TTB investigations into Crisis Pregnancy Centers and has also contributed to the team’s reporting on the effect of COVID-19 on maternal health and on sex workers in Uganda.
Khatondi is an SRHR advocate and co-founder of Free Inquiry Uganda, a secular organization advocating for the separation of church and state. Email her with any thoughts and ideas on investigations into women’s and the LGBTQI rights in East Africa.
Joni Hess, 2020-2021 Documenting the Resistance Fellow
Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, Joni joined the team in October 2020 as a full-time fellow 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, Vox and The Lily by The Washington Post. Joni also previously worked as a social worker.
Follow her on Twitter @joni_bologne
Ani Hovhannisyan, 2020 Data Journalism Fellow
Based in Armenia, Ani joined the Tracking the Backlash team in March 2020 as a full-time fellow for six months. She also 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.
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.