Ms. Global: International Response to the Fall of Roe; Historic Representation of Women in Politics; Feminist Issues at G7 Summit

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.


Mexico

+ Mexican abortion activists ready their abortion networks to offer post-Roe support.

Experienced Mexican abortion activists who have fought for the right to abortion in Mexico have created a substantial abortion network spanning the country. In 2021, their activism led to the legalization of abortion, with a Mexican Supreme Court ruling that the criminalization of abortion is unconstitutional

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, these activists are ready to deploy their skills and extend their networks to provide abortion care in the U.S. A crucial part of those networks are “medicine banks,” private houses that store the abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostrol, and distribute them to women in need — in states where abortion is illegal, for the most part — so that these women can have at-home abortions.

Members of feminist collectives march in Mexico City, on Sep. 28, 2021, the Global Day of Action in support of legal, free and safe abortion in Mexico and Latin America. (Gerardo Vieyra / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Chile

+ Chile is on its way to making abortion access a constitutional right.

The generally conservative South American country might make abortion a constitutional right — if the constitution can pass a referendum on Sept. 4. This constitution will mark Chile’s first new constitution since the country’s authoritarian military dictatorship ended in the 1990s.

Abortion was illegal in the country under any circumstances until 2017. Since then, laws have changed and abortions can now be performed in cases of rape or a threat to the life of the woman or fetus. While public opinion towards abortions is still generally negative, a 2021 Ipsos poll found that 41 percent of Chileans are in favor of abortion access and another 32 percent agree that abortions should be accessible under certain situations, such as rape. Since 2014, favorability toward abortion has increased an average of 8 percentage points in Chile. 

It was the actions of feminists that led to clear language and inclusion of the right to abortion into the new Chilean constitution. Activists collected over 15,000 signatures to suggest language for the constitution. Now, Article 16 states that people must have access to “‘services’ required for ‘voluntary termination of pregnancy’” — a win for Chilean feminists.

United Kingdom

+ Labour MP wants abortion access to become a right in the forthcoming Bill of Rights.

In the wake of the Roe overturn, Labour MP Stella Creasy intends to bring forward an amendment to the United Kingdom’s bill of rights that would guarantee a right to abortions for women and other people who can get pregnant.

Creasy told The Guardian: “Roe v. Wade gave American women a constitutional right to have an abortion. Currently here in the UK, only women in Northern Ireland have their constitutional rights to an abortion protected as a human right.”

At the moment, abortion access is only a constitutional right in Northern Ireland — not in the other parts of the United Kingdom. Accessing abortions in Northern Ireland is still very difficult, requiring the agreement of two doctors that the abortion is necessary to prevent mental and physical health risks. MPs including Casey hope amending the bill of rights would provide vital protections to abortion seekers.

Germany

+ A law which banned doctors from providing abortion information is abolished by vote.

The same day that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the German parliament voted in favor for removing Paragraph 219a of the country’s criminal code, which stated that doctors could be fined for providing information about the abortion procedures they are offering within their offices. 

While abortion is highly restricted in Germany, there are exceptions in cases of rape, in cases where the pregnancy is a health risk, and if the procedure is undergone within the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy (after mandatory counseling).

The paragraph, which is part of a criminal code from 1933, had created trouble for abortion providers that informed their patients about the procedures on their websites. Many gynecologists hope that the abolition of this provision will ease the burden of providing the care their patients need.

German activists protest paragraph 218 of the criminal code, which prohibited and penalized abortion. June 1988. (Wikimedia Commons)

+ The German Soccer Federation (DFB) states that transgender, non-binary and intersex individuals can select which soccer team to play for. 

Prior to this ruling, athletes were obligated to play for the team that matched their official gender identification documents. However, since 2018, Germans have had the option to register their gender as “diverse” or “no reference,” opening up a range of possibilities for gender expression. 

Sabine Mammitzsch, who oversees women’s and girls’ soccer at the DFB, says there has long been a need for clarification. “The state and regional associations, but also relevant people at grassroots level, have been signaling for a long time that there are uncertainties with how to accommodate transgender, intersex and non-binary players.” 

This decision comes shortly after the International Swimming Federation (FINA) voted to prevent the participation of transgender women in elite women’s competitions, claiming that they have an unfair advantage to trans athletes. (According to researchers, there is little to no evidence that this is the case.)

According to a statement released by the DFB, “Experience has shown that this [allowing athletes to play with the team of their choice] does not jeopardize the integrity of the competition. After all, all people have different physical strengths and abilities that only lead to success together in a team, regardless of gender.”

In order to oversee the right of trans and non-binary athletes, the DFB will appoint trusted officials, while also relying on local anti-discrimination and anti-violence groups for support. 

Colombia

+ In a historic win, Francia Márquez has become Colombia’s first Black female Vice President. 

As a single mother of two, environmental activist and community organizer from the city of Yolombo, Márquez represents a generation of Colombians eager for diversity and progress. Afro-Colombians have historically experienced racism and structural barriers — an experience that will shape Márquez’s role as Vice President.

Márquez at a forum on ecofeminism and the fight of women against extractive industry in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Márquez first became an activist at age 13, when she mobilized her community against the construction of a dam. Then, when an illegal mining operation destroyed the La Toma community in 2014, Márquez spearheaded a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women to the nation’s capital — which resulted in the ultimate removal of the miners. In 2018, Márquez was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work.

According to Gimena Sanchez, the Andes director for the Washington Office on Latin America, Márquez “comes from a rural area, she comes from the perspective of a campesino woman and from the perspective of areas of Colombia that have been affected by armed conflict for many years. Most politicians in Colombia who have held the presidency have not lived in the way she has.” 

Márquez, 40, has stated that, while in office, she intends to reduce inequality. In her words: “This will be a government for those with calluses on their hands. We are here to promote social justice and to help women eradicate the patriarchy.”

India

+ Droupadi Murmu has received the current ruling party’s nomination for the July Presidential election. 

On June 21, 2022, Droupadi Murmu, 64, was named by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to be their political candidate in the upcoming election on July 18. 

Murmu hails from Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district and has previously worked as a teacher. In 2015, she was sworn in as the first female governor of Jharkhand, where she remained until 2021. If elected, she would be the first president to come from a tribal community and the nation’s second female president. She has held many diverse positions, including those in areas such as transport, commerce, fisheries and animal husbandry.

In Jharkhand, officials have described her as a “compassionate and balanced” administrator who remained “accessible and down to earth.” She has used her political roles to strike a balance between addressing concerns among tribal communities, while simultaneously “giving proper directions” to the government.

Droupadi Murmu speaks with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on December 27, 2017. (Wikimedia Commons)

Samoa

+ Samoa’s Parliament now has the highest number of female MPs ever represented in the country’s politics.

In May 2022, Samoa’s Supreme Court ruled that three new female members must be sworn into office immediately, thereby increasing the number of women in Parliament to seven out of 54 total members. The newly appointed members include Ali’imalemanu Alofa Tu’ua’u, Fa’agaseali’i Sapo’a Feaga’i and Toomata Norah Leota. 

This increase follows a recent update to the Samoan Constitution, which mandates that women must compose a minimum of 10 percent of all Parliamentary members. 

In comparison with its neighbors Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia — none of which have a single acting woman representative in their parliaments — Samoa introduced this measure as a method to “address the under-representation of women in the Parliament of Samoa.” 

Ali’imalemanu Alofa Tu’ua’u — one of the newly appointed members — called it a “win for all women.” 

International

+ World leaders respond to the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe with shock.

As the U.S. Supreme Court published their decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, leaders around the world shared their disappointment. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “The news coming out of the United States is horrific. My heart goes out to the millions of American women who are now set to lose their legal right to an abortion. I can’t imagine the fear and anger you are feeling right now,” while French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted “I wish to express my solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States.”

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet described the ruling as “a huge blow to women’s rights and gender equality.” Despite the wave of shock that ran through world leaders, there also were some voices supporting the overturn of Roe globally. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia expressed his approval of the decision, echoing Pope Francis who praised the importance of life and family in the Vatican.

+ New UN Women Report Details Requirements for “Emergency Preparedness” 

On June 23, 2022, UN Women and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released a new report detailing the ways countries can respond to crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the looming climate emergency. 

This report suggests that countries with a higher proportion of women in elected office or powerful feminist movements adopted more policies that integrated gender with other political considerations. About five more gender-sensitive measures were found compared to countries without them. UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous said that the report shows that “when women lead, everyone benefits from a more inclusive and effective crisis response, and more resilient economies and societies, today and in the future.”  

To compile this report, the UNDP-UN Women COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker analyzed over 5,000 policies around the world. This report comes as global governments continue to grapple with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on women, who complete the majority of unpaid labor

Overall, this report demonstrates the importance of including women and the creation of gender-sensitive programs and protections, particularly in the face of the ongoing crises. “Responding to current and future crises requires action now to ensure that economies and societies are better prepared and more resilient in the future, said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “This report shows what governments can achieve in their crisis response when they prioritize gender equality.”

+ World leaders discuss gender equality and other feminist issues at G7 Summit. 

While the world is suffering from multiple security threats, leaders at the G7 summit in Germany have also spent time navigating issues around gender inequality. The G7 leaders have decided on five steps to implement gender equality. These include “investing in structural change, to find the political will to implement change, to tackle the care economy, to address a lack of representation and to encourage citizens to get involved,” per CNN.

During the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi from India and U.S. President Joe Biden met to discuss gender equality as well. While President Biden had mentioned his concerns about the status of human rights in India, Prime Minister Modi pointed out his concerns about rising hate crimes and gun violence, as well as recent restrictions to abortion access in the U.S.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa met the G7 leaders to discuss food security concerns for the African continent. He pointed out that G7 countries were responsible for a large portion of the CO2 emissions that cause extreme weather phenomena that result in food insecurities through flooding, droughts and plagues. Further, he stated that the G7 nations must support developing countries in transitioning towards renewable energies.

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About and

Dominik Drabent is an editorial intern for Ms. and a graduate student in the gender & women's studies program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He earned his bachelor's degree in gender & women's studies and aviation management from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His research interests are queer studies, feminist pedagogy, transnational feminism, the Middle East, Islamic feminism and Muslim sexualities.
Hannah Phelps is an editorial intern at Ms. and a senior at Smith College majoring in government and the study of women and gender. Her interests include educational equity, international law and transnational feminism.