Feminism around the world
The last 12 months have been pretty dispiriting for feminists everywhere. First there was the Brexit vote, and the subsequent bittersweet appointment of the UK's second female prime minister – the supposedly feminist Theresa May, whose track record on women's issues is underwhelming, to say the least. Then we watched in horror and despair as, instead of celebrating the first female president of the USA, the world came to terms with President Donald Trump, a notorious misogynist, and frankly a terrifying prospect for women and minorities everywhere.
But it hasn't all been doom and gloom. With Trump's inauguration, feminists globally have responded with renewed vigour and determination. An estimated five million protestors turned out for the worldwide Women's March on 21 January 2017, united against misogyny, hatred and intolerance, and campaigning for the continued protection of women's hard-won rights. At the recent March4Women in London, music legend and campaigner Annie Lennox described Trump's "locker room talk" as a "catalyst" for the resurgence of feminism. There's little doubt that his election has been a galvanizing force for many who were previously on the fence about the power of protest – but it's also symptomatic of a wider global pushback against women's rights.
So, to celebrate women everywhere taking a stand, we took a look at some of the most inspiring feminist protests around the world so far in 2017…
Ireland – Repeal the Eighth
The inauguration of anti-abortionists Trump and Pence kick-started a renewed pro-choice movement across the US, with activists making donations to Planned Parenthood and campaigning to protect abortion rights across the States. But closer to home the last 12 months have also seen a boost for the Repeal the Eighth movement in Ireland, calling for the decriminalisation of abortions on the Emerald Isle. Procuring an abortion in Ireland is punishable by as much as 14 years in prison, and is illegal under any circumstances – including pregnancies where the foetus would not be able to survive outside the womb. The notorious Eighth Amendment grants foetuses the same citizenship and rights as the pregnant woman, and there's a growing campaign for Ireland to hold a referendum on repealing this damaging law. It's estimated that 12 Irish women every day travel to England or elsewhere in Great Britain in order to access safe, legal abortions – but it's just not a good enough solution, and Irish feminists have had enough. On 8 March 2017, to mark International Women's Day (IWD), pro-choice activists dressed in black and staged a one-day women's strike, taking time off from work, as well as refusing to participate in household chores and caring responsibilities.
Poland – Dziewuchy dziewuhcom and the Czarny Protest
Of course, it's not possible to talk about abortion rights protests without also mentioning the inspirational 'Black Protest' (Czarny Protest) in Poland, which inspired so many feminist activists in the autumn of 2016. Polish feminists successfully forced lawmakers to abandon a proposed near-total ban on abortion, following their protests across the country. Organised by Polish feminist organisation Dziewuchy dziewuchom (Wenches to wenches), the strike attracted more than 100,000 protestors, all dressed in black, and has been held up as an inspiration for reproductive rights campaigners everywhere. The group also staged follow-up protests on International Women's Day this year.
You can find out more about the feminist movement in Poland at Dziewuchy dziewuchom: https://www.facebook.com/dziewuchydziewuchom/
India – I Will Go Out
India is another country to have experienced a huge upsurge in feminist activism in recent years, sparked in a large part by the horrific Delhi gang rape in 2012, and more recently the mass molestation of women in Bangalore on New Year's Eve. On 21 January, Indian feminists joined protestors across the USA and the rest of the world, as part of the global Women's March. In India, the march was named 'I Will Go Out' and focused its protest on the scale of sexual violence and harassment across the country. Hundreds of women joined the night-time protests across New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and other major towns and cities. The idea was to reclaim and occupy the streets of India at night, refusing to be intimidated into hiding indoors, and to demand safety for women in public spaces. The 'I Will Go Out' movement also marked this year's IWD with a Women's Summit in Hyderabad, to discuss the role of women in India and how the country can work towards creating gender equality at all levels of Indian society.
You can find out more about the feminist movement in India at I Will Go Out: https://www.facebook.com/iwillgoout/
China – Feminist Voices
China was notably missing from the list of countries where women participated in the 21 January Women's March – but not because of a lack of feminist passion from the country's 645 million women. Under the Chinese government's rigorous restrictions, street protests are forbidden, but hundreds of Chinese feminists joined a solidarity discussion online, sharing live broadcasts and photos from marches elsewhere in the world. The group was carefully named 'Walking with women from all over the world' to avoid government censorship – something Chinese feminists are all too familiar with. In 2015 a group of Chinese feminist activists, who became known as the Feminist Five, were arrested and jailed for planning an IWD protest, using stickers to campaign against sexual harassment on public transport.
You can find out more about the feminist movement in China at Feminist Voices: https://www.facebook.com/feministvoices/
Brazil – Agora Juntas
Brazil is the fifth most dangerous country in the world to be a woman, according to UN figures on femicide, and recent years have seen growing levels of feminist activism across the nation. In 2016 thousands of women across Brazil – including 5,000 in Sao Paulo – marched to protest the country's rape culture. The protest came in the wake of shocking video footage showing a 16-year-old girl naked and badly injured after apparently being gang raped by more than 30 men. 150 protestors joined Rio de Janeiro's Women's March on 21 January, and Brazilian women also participated in the 8 March global women's strike, particularly highlighting gendered issues with the country's recent pension reform.
You can find out more about the feminist movement in Brazil at Agora Juntas: https://www.facebook.com/agora.juntas/
Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, Zimbabwe – African Feminist Forum
Africa is a huge, diverse continent, where women's rights, and the issues facing women in their everyday lives, vary widely from country to country. The African Feminist Forum brings together feminists from across the continent, in national and regional conferences, to campaign for greater gender equality across Africa. The issues they campaign on range from the impact of HIV/AIDS on women, to sexual harassment and violence, and women's participation in the political process. The Ugandan Feminist Forum, for example, has helped to build solidarity with LGBT activists in the campaign against anti-gay laws, as well as working to support sex workers rights.
You can find out more about the feminist movement across Africa at African Feminist Forum: https://www.facebook.com/AfricanFeministForum/
Russia - Fem Fest
When you think about feminism in Russia, Pussy Riot's iconic Moscow Cathedral protest performance is probably the first thing that springs to mind. Indeed, feminism in Russia has seemed a bit quiet – certainly less colourful – since members of the punk collective were jailed for their protest in 2012. But Russian women's right's activists have joined women around the world in this year's feminist revival. Although Russia, along with China, didn't hold a Women's March in solidarity with the 21 January movement, hundreds of activists did join protests in Moscow and St Petersburg on International Women's Day. In Moscow, a group of eight feminists were arrested after protesting outside the Kremlin with a banner reading: "Men have been in power 200 years, down with them!" Their banner was a reference to Russia's last female ruler, Catherine the Great, who died in 1796. Also in March, a thousand feminists gathered for Fem Fest in Moscow, where issues being discussed included the recent law downgrading punishments for domestic violence in Russia.
You can find out more about the feminist movement in Russia at FemFest: https://special.theoryandpractice.ru/femfest or Ravnopravka, a feminist group based in Moscow: https://www.facebook.com/ravnopravka/
IMAGE COURTESY: https://newmatilda.com