These 8 stories are a feminist’s must-read
Feminism comes in many forms across the world. These eight stories from last year highlight the fight, expose injustice and inspire change
From Mexico to Kenya, stories from across the world on the coordinated campaigns to take away women’s and LGBTIQ rights are eerily similar. But equally alike – and inspiring – are the women and LGBTIQ people fighting back. Over the past year, we’ve profiled feminists in Myanmar, Venezuela and the US organising for change. We’ve investigated global coordinated and targeted campaigns by the ultra-conservative right to take away our rights. We’ve exposed injustices during childbirth, US-funded pro-life centres masquerading as ‘crisis pregnancy centres’ and misinformation campaigns in numerous countries. Here’s a selection of just eight of these must-read stories.
1. Mexican women plan historic strike against femicides
After a six-month openDemocracy investigation, major aid donors and NGOs have said they will investigate anti-LGBT ‘conversion therapy’ at health facilities run by groups they fund.
But unlike the other aid donors, US aid agency PEPFAR has not responded at all.
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Nearly 80,000 women took part in last year’s protest against femicide in Mexico City, making it one of the biggest in the capital in years. We talked to women who had never joined a protest like the women’s march, and asked why this time around they wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder with feminists who have been organising for years – despite significant resistance from powerful conservative and religious groups. Read the piece from our former fellow Isabella Cota to understand why.
2. Don’t queer Kenyans have a right to religion?
In this powerful personal essay, our former fellow Arya Karijo – a trans woman from Kenya – describes the pain, loss and emptiness she suffered over losing a community that had felt like her family. “My life had revolved around church. All my friends had been in the youth group and choir. I taught Sunday school and the teens group. I had met my fiancé in this tightly knit community that cared about each other's lives, illnesses, weddings and funerals.” In the story, she takes us on her own journey trying to find an answer to why her religious leaders have been hateful towards people like her. What she found may surprise you.
3. These are the women of colour who took down Trump
Across the US, it was women of colour who took to the streets, embraced social media, challenged their neighbours and did whatever they could to make sure their voices were heard before the presidential election. “Politics is broken, and the people that broke it aren't going to fix it. And so it's got to be up to us. It's got to be up to the people to make those changes,” said Ashleigh Strange, one of the women profiled in this piece by our fellow Joni Hess. Ousting Donald Trump from office was only half the battle. The people are demanding real change and now they see how powerful their voices really are. These are their stories.
4. ‘You could die and turn your husband gay.’ How I learned to talk women out of legal abortions
Did you know abortion could cause death, cancer, mental health issues and a boyfriend who “experiences homosexuality”? No? Well, it’s complete nonsense, but it’s what ‘crisis pregnancy centres’ want you to believe. Our network member Sian Norris enrolled in two online anti-abortion courses as part of our investigation into misinformation targeting pregnant women around the world through these CPCs. These centres are affiliated with Heartbeat International, a Trump-linked religious right group that is funding and producing trainings for anti-abortion activists worldwide. Want to know what else Sian learned? Read it here.
5. Women across Latin America ‘under pressure’ to have C-sections during COVID-19
Giving birth alone, being refused treatment, being pressured into a C-section when it isn’t needed. These are the experiences women across the world have endured during COVID-19. But the increase in obstetric violence we uncovered in Latin America was shocking. “We were literally the hospital’s plague-stricken ones,” said Montse Reyes, who had a scheduled caesarean last May at a private hospital in Mexico. She says that both she and her baby tested positive for COVID-19 after the birth, but staff didn’t inform her of the test results until she was discharged after two days in isolation. Read our investigation here.
6. ‘We’re unstoppable’: meet the women leading Myanmar’s protest
Women of all ages in major towns and cities across Myanmar have flooded the streets in protest against the military coup that shook the country at the beginning of February 2021. More than 54 people have died to date. We decided to profile some of the brave and determined women taking a stance, from veteran feminists to young activists. Read here why they are fighting for a return to democracy.
7. Abortion Without Borders: a bold, feminist reply to Poland’s draconian laws
Protests in autumn 2020 against Poland’s near-total abortion ban were widely covered in the international media. But the resistance against anti-abortion forces wasn’t new. Even before the new ban was announced, feminist activists from acrossEurope banded together to resist the threats, both old and new, to reproductive rights in Poland. Our fellow Claudia Torrisi spoke with members of the group Abortion Without Borders about the importance of their work, their methods, challenges and hopes. You can read the story here.
8. US Christian right group hosts anti-LGBT training for African politicians
Homosexuality is outlawed in 34 African countries: it’s punishable by death in some, and carries a punishment of life imprisonment in others. In Kenya, a report by the equality and justice movement found that 53% of the LGBT respondents had been physically assaulted, yet only 29% of those had reported the physical assault to the police. The hatred is not only fed from within. As part of our investigation into dark money spending worldwide by the US ultra-conservative right, we found that “hate group” Family Watch International has been teaching high-level politicians across Africa how to campaign against sex education and LGBT rights. To find out more about their tactics and their impact, read the piece here.
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