Ms. Global: India Opens School for Trans People; Turkey Withdraws From Gender Violence Treaty; Ecuadorian Women Harmed by Abortion Laws

The U.S. ranks as the 19th most dangerous country for women, 11th in maternal mortality, 30th in closing the gender pay gap, 75th in women’s political representation, and painfully lacks paid family leave and equal access to health care. But Ms. has always understood: Feminist movements around the world hold answers to some of the U.S.’s most intractable problems. Ms. Global is taking note of feminists worldwide.


Switzerland

Protesters at the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Berlin (Montecuz Foto / Creative Commons)

Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a groundbreaking report on racial justice and equality. The report focuses on the “systemic nature of the racism that affects the lives of Africans and people of African descent.” Member states are encouraged to implement the four-part agenda contained in the report, including:

  • ending the denial of systemic racism,
  • pursuing justice by ending impunity and building trust,
  • centering people of African descent, and
  • redressing racist histories by “deliver[ing] reparatory justice.”

Turkey

On July 1, Turkey officially withdrew from an international treaty protecting women from gendered violence. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted that it would not be a step back for women—but the women’s rights group We Will Stop Femicide pointed to the fact that 189 Turkish women were murdered in 2021 alone, and 409 in total were murdered last year. The administration continues to promote conservative social values for women and claims that homosexuality “is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values.” Feminist and LGBTQ+ groups have been protesting the decision with hundreds taking to the streets in Istanbul following the announcement of the country’s treaty withdrawal. 

India

In India, despite making up only 24 percent of the working population pre-COVID, women accounted for 28 percent of all job losses and 43 percent of those who are waiting to recover their paid work. (UNDP India / Flickr)

Low-income women in India continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic. New research shows they lost jobs more often than male counterparts, provided more unpaid care labor, faced increased reproductive health care barriers and ate less food. The study from Dalberg found that despite making up only 24 percent of the working population pre-COVID, they accounted for 28 percent of all job losses and 43 percent of those who are waiting to recover their paid work. The same study found that 16 percent of women faced difficulty accessing menstrual products and more than 33 percent of married women could not access contraception as a result of the pandemic. About one-tenth of surveyed women reported eating less or running out of food. 

Meanwhile, an Indian NGO called Shri Mahashakti opened Kinnar Vidyalaya, a school that will provide free education to transgender people. The CEO of Shri Mahashakti, Rekha Tripathi, explained that  “social stigma paired with poor economic conditions” has resulted in low levels of educational attainment for transgender people in India, with literacy rates around 57 percent. Already, more than 25 students have been admitted to the school.

South Sudan

The TITI Foundation—short for Together in Transformational Initiatives for Africa—focuses efforts on Central and East African countries marred with civil wars and poverty. (Facebook)

As South Sudan faces an onslaught of interrelated problems from COVID-19 to resurgent conflict, Gloria Soma is working towards gender justice and collective healing for her country. As director of the TITI Foundation—an NGO focused on women and children—she is working to alleviate food insecurity, boost women’s employment, and reduce gender-based violence. Since 2018, Soma reports convicting about 56 perpetrators of violence against women. 

Ecuador

A report conducted by Human Rights Watch found that Ecuador’s strict abortion laws have harmed the well-being and physical and mental health of women—especially impoverished indigenous and Afro-descendent individuals. The country criminalizes abortion in most cases—excluding rape and the health of a woman. As a result, individuals who undergo illegal abortions are criminalized to up to two years in prison and those who perform the surgery can face up to three years in prison. Significantly, the report found that individuals who were criminalized for illegal abortions found it difficult to find adequate legal representation.

“Nothing has ever been given to us, we women have had to fight for our rights,” said Ana Cristina Vera, the director of Surkuna, a feminist organization in Quito, Ecuador. 

China

(Big Bowl Entertainment)

Two of the biggest films in China, “Hi, Mom” and “Sister,” were made by female directors. According to the New York Times, both films are unique in that they reject “the one-dimensional female roles often seen in commercial Chinese movies, like the lovelorn maiden or the ‘flower vase,’ a derogatory Chinese term for a pretty face.” The two films offer a hopeful future for the potential success of female directors and a new leading narrative around how women should be portrayed in films.

Europe

On July 14, The European Commission proposed plans to reduce the impacts of climate change. These plans include the reduction of “net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent below 1990 levels within less than a decade,” the phasing out of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles by 2035, among other proposals which would make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Although applauded by some, others believe that these steps are not radical enough to stop or reduce the effects of climate change and are fearful of the undue financial burden the plans place on European citizens. With an uncertain future, the next step for the plans includes the passage of it by 27 member countries and the European Parliament

The United States

On July 8, Zaila Avant-garde became the first Black American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee—a historic win after almost 100 years of competitions. The historic victory from the 14-year-old from Harvey, La., adds to a list of her varied accomplishments, including three Guinness world records for dribbling, bouncing and juggling basketballs.

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About and

Juliet Schulman-Hall is an editorial fellow for Ms. and a rising senior at Smith College. She is majoring in English language & literature, minoring in sociology, and concentrating in poetry. Her beats include caregiving, mental health and disability advocacy, and criminal justice reform and abolition. Follow her @jschulmanhall
Lily Sendroff is an editorial fellow at Ms. and a rising senior at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She majors in the study of women and gender and government, with a concentrative subfield in comparative politics. Her work typically focuses on feminist economics, transnational feminism, and policy analysis.