Ms. Global: Women and Girls Left Vulnerable in Afghanistan; Two Natural Disasters Hitting Haiti; Moldova’s New Female Prime Minister

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.


Australia

Produced by ABC, a new documentary TV series, Ms Represented, tackles Australian politics 100 years after the election of its first female parliamentarian. ABC writes, “Across the board, the advances and setbacks of women in the parliaments of Australia are still—for an ancient continent—very much recent business.” As such, the show attempts to highlight the multitude of successes and setbacks women have gone through in Australian politics.

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One hundred years after Australia elected its very first female parliamentarian, Annabel Crabb presents Ms Represented, a raw and honest account of politics from the female perspective. (ABC iView)

Sri Lanka

Thalatha Atukorale, one of only 12 women members of Parliament in Sri Lanka, was verbally harassed by two ministers and a group of ruling party members of Parliament. Since this incident, which occurred last month, members of Parliament from the opposition, including Rohini Wijerathna, have spoken out against the offender’s actions. Wijerathna criticized Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, saying, “You were laughing when [Athukorale] was being verbally harassed sexually.”

Afghanistan

With the Taliban closing in on towns and villages in Afghanistan, women and girls are increasingly vulnerable—especially widowers, single and divorced women. The Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations estimates that approximately 70 percent of nearly one million individuals displaced in the past few months from the Taliban are women and children. “I worry about the fate of my own daughters. I haven’t experienced peace in my lifetime—and now I worry my daughters will never know peace,” a 60-year-old Afghan woman, Rahima said.

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Students at a midwifery school in Nili, Afghanistan, in July 2009. (Flickr / United Nations Photo, Eric Kanalstein)

In response to Taliban control, women and girls in Afghanistan have been taking down their social media, burning their sports uniforms and taking other measures in an attempt to avoid being targetted by the Taliban.

With the approximately $1.6 billion that the Taliban yielded from 2019-2020—from drugs, mining, extortion and taxes, covert charitable donations, exports, real estate and foreign sources—the Taliban’s power is difficult to suppress. As such, Americans are urging the Biden-Harris administration to reconsider plans to stick with the August 31 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Haiti

Over the span of three days, Haiti has had two natural disasters—one earthquake that killed over 2,000 individuals and tropical storm Grace that brought flash floods and the potential for mudslides. As a result, many individuals have been displaced and injured. These disasters have caused more instability in Haiti, which has already been struggling with gang violence, poverty, political trauma and COVID-19. With main hospitals damaged and only a few dozen doctors in a region home to one million people, Haiti is struggling. Although the U.S., the U.N. and other international aid groups have begun to help Haiti, the relief has been slow. (To learn more about how you can help, donate to one of these vetted organizations.)

U.K.

In Plymouth, England, a 22-year-old man killed five people before taking his own life—an event that marked Britain’s worst mass shooting in a decade. In an investigation, investigators found that the man was aligned with the incel movement which might have factored into his killing spree. 

Meanwhile, a police officer, Wayne Couzens, pleaded guilty to killing and raping 33-year-old Sarah Everard—abducting her while she was walking home from her friend’s house in south London. This incident has sparked a nationwide outcry, where women have been sharing stories of sexual assault and violence. 

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A silent vigil in Sheffield, England, in March prompted by the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard in London by a serving police officer. 100+ people (70% young women) attended to lay flowers and light candles. (Tim Dennell / Flickr)

On another note, new research finds that women board members at the U.K.’s largest companies are paid 40 percent less than male counterparts. This contrasts the unequal but less drastic gender pay gap in the broader job market—where women were paid 15.5 percent less than men. Experts note that the significant gap in pay may have to do with the fact that few women hold higher-paying top executive positions. Although the number of female directors in UK public companies has increased, it is obvious that more work needs to be done.

Moldova

Moldova’s government has confirmed Natalia Gavrilita as president’s choice for new prime minister, the third woman in the country to hold this title. winning with 61 votes out of the 101 seat parliament. Gavrilita promises to work toward ending corruption in office and mending ties with the European Union.

Zambia

Only 13 percent of the House in Zambia will be made up of women—a decline from previous years. Hakainde Hichilema will be the new president with Mutale Nalumango as the second female vice president after incumbent Inonge Wina.

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About

Juliet Schulman-Hall is an editorial fellow for Ms. and a 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