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 healthcare. 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.
+ Anti-government protests continue as Iranian security forces crack down on Kurdish regions.
Anti-government protests in Iran continue to spread amid increased government crackdowns. At least 23 children have been killed by Iranian security forces, according to Amnesty International. The report details the names and circumstances of these deaths—victims include 20 boys aged 11 to 17 and three girls aged 16- and 17-years-old. Although the organization is continuing its investigation, a total of 144 victims have been discovered thus far.
Hundreds of protestors were sent to Iran’s Evin prison, which was the site of a major fire on Oct. 15. Although officials are unsure if this was related to the external protests, there was a riot in the wing housing petty criminals. Four prisoners died and 61 were injured in the fire, which caused some on social media to accuse the authorities of “setting the prison ablaze intentionally.”
On Oct. 12, Iran deployed members of its Basij militia — troops that work to repress popular unrest — in Kurish regions. Seven people were then killed overnight during the subsequent protests. “A few days ago some Basij members from Sanandaj and Baneh refused to follow orders and shoot the people,” said one witness. “In Saquez the situation is the worst. Those Basiji forces just shoot at people, houses, even if there are no protesters.”
+ Elnaz Rekabi competes in a Seoul climbing competition without a headscarf, and now faces house arrest.
Elnaz Rekabi, a 33 year-old professional Iranian climber, is reported to have been placed under house arrest after having competed without wearing a hijab or headscarf at the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asian Championships in Seoul, South Korea earlier this month. During her first event, Rekabi wore a bandana; during her final competition, Rekabi did not wear a hijab or headscarf — a mandatory dress code for women in Iran, and the subject of nationwide anti-government protests following the death of Mahsa Amini last month, a 22 year-old woman who was arrested by Iran’s morality police for “inappropriate attire.”
After a video of Rekabi competing without a hijab went viral, concerns about her wellbeing began to fester — with many worried that her decision not to wear a hijab, whether with the intention of making a political statement or not, marked her as vulnerable to Iranian authorities.
Following the end of the competition, Rekabi was reportedly tricked into going to the Iranian Embassy in Seoul, where she was stripped of her phone and passport, and promptly placed on a plane to Tehran, Iran. According to an “informed source” with BBC, after returning to Tehran, Rekabi did not go home; and Rekabi’s friends and family had trouble contacting her.
“She was held at the national Olympics academy under the watch of plainclothes officers until she met the minister,” said the source (referring to the Minister of Sport and Youths of Iran, Hamid Sajjadi). According to the same source, Rekabi was threatened by Iranian authorities and “forced” to publish a statement on Instagram, apologizing for the controversy and declaring that her hijab accidentally slipped off amidst the chaos of the competition and that her “hijab unintentionally became problematic.”
Human rights organizations, campaigns and activists continue to accuse Iranian authorities of coercing people into making false statements to the public. The Center of Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) tweeted, “Don’t take the government in Iran’s word at face value — it has a documented history of detaining, maiming and killing those who oppose it.”
+ Afghan women protest deadly Kabul school attack.
On Oct. 3, protests erupted in response to the recent attack on the Kaaj Educational Center in Kabul, which resulted in the death of 53 young students and 110 injured. The attack by a suicide bomber occurred as students sat for a practice university entrance exam. The exam represented an opportunity for the girls who had been forced out of school by the Taliban’s ban on women in secondary education.
In response to the school attacks, women began to call for an end to attacks on minority Harazas— who were the majority of victims in the attack. As protests spread from Kabul to Bamiyan, Ghazni, Nangarhar and Panjshir, Taliban authorities responded with violence to dispel the protestors.
This was the latest act of violence against a school attended by Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras, who have historically faced persecution. Still, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In their protests, women demand recognition of the right to education and advocate for the reopening of girls’ secondary schools. “After Friday’s attack on innocent girls in the Kaaj Education Center we said we have had enough,” explained protester and university professor Zahra Mosawi. “We have to raise our voices and organize ourselves. This genocide against Hazara has to end.”
+ Brazilians elects Lula, former leftist leader.
President Jair Bolsonaro has been voted out of office after serving only one term. Bolsonaro was replaced by the leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula received 50.9 percent of the vote, with Bolsonaro at 49.1 percent, according to recent polling data. “I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not just for those who voted for me,” said Lula.
Thousands of Lula supporters took to the streets of São Paulo to celebrate his win. The 77-year-old former metalworker governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010 before being imprisoned for corruption convictions — which were later annulled. He has vowed to undo Bolsonaro’s legacy of pro-gun policies and weakened environmental protections that have left the nation “globally isolated.”
As of Oct. 31, Bolsonaro has remained silent, generating fears about what may come next. He has long said Brazil’s elections are ripe with fraud — despite no evidence to support this claim. “If need be, we will go to war,” he stated in a speech to his supporters before the election. As a result, millions of his supporters have lost faith in the electoral system of Brazil and are vowing to protest if indicated to do so by Bolsonaro himself.
+ Pregnant women displaced by floods struggle to access healthcare.
Due to catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, nearly one-third of the country is underwater. The United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) estimates that more than 650,000 pregnant women in flood-hit areas require immediate healthcare services, with 73,000 women expected to go into labor next month. Experts fear an increase in infant mortality, health complications for mothers and a rise in unwanted pregnancies.
At relief camps in Fazilpur and Rajanpur, pregnant women claim that they have received no prenatal care since arriving at the camps nearly two months ago. Flood victims are scattered and roads are destroyed, preventing aid from reaching most of the villages and camps. And even when medicine reaches those in need, there are not nearly enough gynecologists or nurses to assess pregnant women or assist in labor.
“First we lost our house, now we don’t even have enough food to eat,” said Zohra, a woman living in the village of Fateh. “I already have three children and I am unable to feed them. How do I feed the one who is inside me?”
+ Abortion rights protests erupt following the death of 14-year-old.
On International Safe Abortion Day, Moroccan women protested outside parliament for access to legal abortions. The protests were in response to the death of 14-year-old Meriem, who faced health complications from an illicit abortion she had after being raped. The protestors honored Meriem with posters claiming “We are all Meriem.”
Abortion is currently illegal in Morocco and carries a two-year prison sentence, except in cases where the health of the mother is at risk. King Mohammed VI called for abortion reform in 2015 to make exceptions for rape or incest. But, the process has stalled for seven years. The Moroccan Organization against Clandestine Abortion (AMLAC) estimates that between 600 and 800 banned abortions happen every day.
The calls for abortion rights represent the Moroccon feminist movement and the effort to reform the Moroccan Family Code. “For us, rights are indivisible,” said Amina Lofti, president of the Democratic Association for Moroccan Women (ADFM). The goal: a complete reform of the penal code to guarantee the gender equality promised by the country’s 2011 constitution. “I hope in the future women’s rights will be protected,” explained one young protestor.
+ Indian women remain skeptical of new abortion ruling.
On Sept. 29, India’s Supreme Court ruled that all women, regardless of marital status, can obtain abortions up to 24 weeks in their pregnancies. Under previous law, married women could receive an abortion up to 24 weeks, while single women were limited to 10.
“Now, all the rights that married women have, single women will also have,” said Aparna Chandra, an associate professor of law at the National Law School of India. The court “breaks away from the stigma that is attached to single women getting pregnant,” she noted.
Unsafe abortion is currently the third leading cause of death for women in India, with approximately eight women dying each day from unsafe abortions. Some hope that the new law will address this issue, while others remain cautious about the effect of the law on cultural stigma and accessibility of abortions.
“The entire thing – transport, scans, clinic visits, medicines – cost me about 10,000 rupees [about $120]. It’s quite painful to think that only people of a certain class and caste can afford [safe] abortions,” said 30-year-old Ananya about her abortion experience. Private healthcare is unaffordable for millions of families, according to a 2019 World Bank report. Combined with a lack of familial support, many women rely on unsafe abortion methods. And so, many women in India criticize the abortion law for its narrow impact.
+ The Trevor Project expands life-saving LGBTQ+ services to Mexico.
On National Coming Out Day, The Trevor Project launched a free and confidential digital crisis service for LGBTQ+ youth in Mexico. The digital crisis line will be offered in Spanish on TrevorChat and TrevorText, including SMS text messaging, WhatsApp and online chat. This expansion marks the first time the organization has offered services outside of the U.S. and is a crucial step toward making its services accessible around the world.
“It’s incredibly inspiring to see our vision of providing life-affirming crisis services to LGBTQ young people beyond the U.S. being realized today with our launch in Mexico,” said Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project.
As is the case in the U.S., suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth in Mexico, and 40 million LGBTQ+ youth have contemplated suicide globally. “For many LGBTQ youth in the country, expressing themselves and simply being who they are can put their physical safety and mental wellness at risk. At The Trevor Project Mexico, we will strive to end the stigma around the issue of mental health, provide LGBTQ youth with a safe and trusted space, and ultimately save lives,” said Edurne Balmori, Executive Director of The Trevor Project Mexico.
+ Same-sex marriage legalized in all Mexican states.
Lawmakers in the state of Tamaulipas voted on Oct. 26 to legalize same-sex marriage — the last of Mexico’s 32 states to do so. The vote to amend the Civil Code passed with 23 votes in favor amid cheers from the crowd.
The Mexican Supreme Court originally ruled in 2015 that defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman is discriminatory and therefore violates the constitution. However, states have taken several years to comply with this standard.
“The whole country shines with a huge rainbow. Live the dignity and rights of all people. Love is love,” said Arturo Zaldívar, president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.
+ Giorgia Meloni becomes Italy’s first female prime minister.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, ultraconservative leader Giorgia Meloni recited the ritual oath of office and assumed the role of Italian prime minister, after her Brothers of Italy party won more than 25 percent of the vote in snap elections late last month. She pledged to serve in the “exclusive interests of the nation.”
The swearing-in ceremony comes at a contentious time, in which the ruling coalition struggles to agree on key ministry appointments. “The filo-Russian curriculum of several actors of the new government is hard to hide and it poses a question mark,” said Gregory Alegi, professor of history and politics at Luiss University.
+ After just 44 days as the U.K.’s Prime Minister, Liz Truss suddenly resigned.
On Thursday, Oct. 20, after weeks of market turbulence and economic program criticism from her opponents and members of her own party, Prime Minister Liz Truss and her government collapsed with her resignation announcement. After only six weeks in office, Truss is now the shortest serving prime minister in British political history.
In her announcement, Truss declared, “I recognize though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to announce that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party.”
The former chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, will now become the U.K.’s next prime minister. Sunak will also be the first person of color to assume the role of prime minister in British history.
+ New short film, Ampe: Leap into The Sky, Black Girl, celebrates West African girlhood.
Filmmakers Claudia Owusu and Ife Oluwamuide co-directed a new short film dedicated to the celebration of Black girl’s joy entitled, Ampe: Leap into The Sky, Black Girl. The film centers on the Ghanian coming-of-age game “Ampe,” which has culturally been reserved for girls — the childhood game serves to empower girls and amplify their capacity to take up space in the world.
When asked about their relationships to the game of “Ampe” and its inspiration for the film, Oluwamuide said, “I’m Nigerian and Claudia’s Ghanaian. Last spring, Claudia’s friends threw her a birthday party and they started playing Ampe. Before that, I had no idea that the game existed, but from then on it kinda took over my life. It’s such a beautiful game. Learning about the history and meaning behind it — girlhood, womanhood — has been an amazing experience.”
Owusu also said that her hope for the film is for “other young Black girls to pick up their cameras, pens, whatever the case, and contribute to the narrative lineage in their communities as well. We want Black girls to be able to point and see themselves, and their friends. We want them to move in between time and age and have the space to reflect on who they are now, and who they aspire to be.”
Watch the trailer for Ampe: Leap into The Sky, Black Girl here.
+ Tenth anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child.
Oct. 11 marks the “International Day of the Girl Child.” In marking its tenth anniversary, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that “when girls are supported to realize their human rights, they can reach their potential and create a better world for themselves, their communities and societies.”