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.
+ Iranian authorities announce their plan to install cameras in public spaces to identify and arrest unveiled women.
On Saturday, April 8, Iranian authorities announced that they would install cameras in public spaces to identify and arrest unveiled women. According to the country’s hijab law, women in Iran who do not cover their hair risk arrest. Since the killing of Mahsa Amini by morality police in Sept. of last year, protests against the mandatory dress code law have erupted around the country, with many women refusing to cover their hair.
A statement released by the state-aligned Tasnim News Agency reports, “In an innovative measure and in order to prevent tension and conflicts in implementing the hijab law, Iranian police will use smart cameras in public places to identify people who break the norms.”
In the same statement, police said that after an unveiled woman is identified by one of their cameras, she will receive warning text messages about the consequences of violating the law.
“In the context of preserving values, protecting family privacy and maintaining the mental health and peace of mind of the community, any kind of individual or collective behavior against the law, will not be tolerated,” reads the statement.
+ Human rights activist becomes target of an acid attack.
On April 10, activist Lilia Patricia Cardozo was wounded in an acid attack. According to the city council in the country’s northwestern Boyaca region, the Colombian police are investigating the case.
Cardozo is a human rights activist, as well as the director of the NGO Plataforma Feminista Boyacense (Boycense Feminist Platform), which works to end domestic abuse, gendered violence and related discrimination. They also help domestic abuse victims to escape their abusers.
The chemical substance that was thrown at Cardozo affected four percent of her body, according to the San Rafael de Tunja University Hospital. The spokesperson of the NGO shared on Facebook that Cardozo suffered injuries in the left part of her face.
Since 2022, Cardozo has received various death threats, which led to a safety protocol, approved by the National Protection Unit in Sept. of last year. The Boyacense Feminist Platform accused the local authorities of activating the safety protocol too slowly. The mayor of Tunja, Alejandro Funeme, stated that the protocol was implemented late on Feb. 14 due to the lack of funds.
If the local police are able to identify the attacker, they will face charges of femicide. Many women’s and human rights activists in Colombia are at risk of femicide. In 2022, 614 cases of femicide were reported, according to Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office. Since 2016, over 500 human rights activists have been killed in Colombia. According to Human Rights Watch, this makes Colombia one of the deadliest countries for human rights defenders.
+ Female candidates in Japan’s local elections remain low.
Across all of Japan’s local elections in April, women made up only 15.6 percent of the candidates. According to The Mainichi, “As of November 2022, 14% of Japan’s 1,788 prefectural, city, ward, town, and village assemblies had zero female members, and if those with only one are included, the figure is nearly 40%.”
Male candidates make up the majority of politicians in Japanese legislative bodies. Despite the fact that Japan has passed a law intended to make the number of male and female candidates in municipal and prefectural assemblies fifty-fifty, there is much work left to be done.
+ Women will be allowed to vote at the bishop’s assembly.
Various Catholic women’s groups have long advocated for their right to vote at synods, challenging the Vatican’s attitude about including women in the Church.
Now, Pope Francis has approved changes to how the Synod of Bishops will be governed. The Synod of Bishops is an assembly of all bishops around the world, which meets periodically. With these new changes, women cannot only be auditors at the assembly meetings, but also vote as a papal advisory body.
In Oct. of this year, five sisters will join five priests in Rome as voting representatives. Kate McElwee, who is from the Women’s Ordination Conference, stated to DW, “This is a significant crack in the stained glass ceiling.”
The Pope also decided to add 70 non-bishop members to the Synod, who will have the right to vote, and half of them will be women. The Catholic Church was pressured to react after women have advocated for the inclusion for long. In 2020, women’s rights activists in Germany presented over 130,000 signatures to the German officials in the Church that called for more leadership and inclusion of women.
Last year, the Pope allowed any department in the Vatican to be led by women as well.
+ Aspiring artists try to break gendered barriers.
Nothando Chiwanga is an aspiring female artist who is trying to bring attention to gender inequalities in Zimbabwe.
One of Chiwanga’s artworks entitled, “Immortal,” challenges outdated gender roles. It aligns a helmet from a male-dominated job with a finely woven basket that can be commonly found at markets, where women use them frequently.
The work by Chiwanga is just one example of 21 works by female artists in the exhibition, “We Should All Be Human,” that currently is displayed at the national gallery in Zimbabwe since International Women’s Day on March 8.
According to Fadzai Muchemwa, the national gallery’s art curator, the exhibition pays homage to women’s ambitions and their victories. Chiwanga’s “Immortal” is one such art piece that directly addresses women’s struggle to free themselves from traditional gender roles.
Muchemwa said to AP, “To survive as a woman in Zimbabwe … one needs a hard hat.” The piece combines photography and paintwork. The artist herself stated that the piece calls for change and invites women to reinvent themselves.
In Zimbabwe, women are widely underrepresented in higher education and formal employment. According to the United Nations’ children’s agency, while more girls complete elementary school in Zimbabwe than boys, one in three women are married before the age of 18. Until recently, girls could marry at age 16 in Zimbabwe, while the legal age for boys was 18. In a Constitutional Court ruling last year, the legal age for marriage and sexual consent was set to 18 for both boys and girls.
Chiwanga, who is one of the very few young women to graduate from Zimbabwe’s National School of Visual Arts and Design, already had her art shown in exhibitions in the U.S., Canada, China, Turkey, and Nigeria. The “We Should All Be Human” exhibition aims at encouraging women artists to continue their work and become renown. As Muchemwa said,
“You see a promising student, two or three years down the line they are married and they are done with art. In our society, married women are not expected to be artists. They are frowned upon, yet their male counterparts are celebrated.”
+ Teachers in England set off alarms against the government’s new push for schools to inform parents if their child is questioning their gender.
Teachers in England are warning that young people could be at serious risk of harm and homelessness if the government introduces a new guidance. The rumored new guidance would urge schools in England to inform parents if their child seeks to change their gender. This guidance would also require teachers not to use a new name or pronoun at the student’s request until the teacher has received parental consent.
Many educators and administrators are worried that this guidance will leave students who do not feel safe at home particularly vulnerable. Many are also worried that this guidance, if introduced, will create an atmosphere of fear in the classroom, making it harder for students to turn to teachers for support.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the National Education Union, said, “The government is using this as a distraction from the disintegration of public services under their watch.”
+ The Indian Supreme Court hears petitions to legalize same-sex marriage.
In a set of landmark hearings, the Indian Supreme Court continues to hear petitions to legalize same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, April 27, during the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta spoke on behalf of the socially conservative government, arguing that the Court has no standing to hear the matter. Mr. Mehta elaborated that only the parliament has jurisdiction to debate marriage equality. The Court appeared to agree with the government’s position.
“We take your point that if we enter this arena, this will be an area of the legislature. You have made a very powerful argument that this is for the parliament,” said Chief Justice DY Chandrachud.
Mr. Mehta said he would consult with government officials, report back to the Court on May 3, and present more information about how the government can best serve as a “facilitator” to support same-sex couples.
This month’s closely watched hearings come five years after the Court decriminalized gay sex. The Court has also taken up other LGBTQ+ related issues over the past few decades. In a 2014 ruling, the Court codified “transgender” as a third gender into law. In a 2017 ruling, the Court acknowledged the issue of privacy, including a person’s sexual orientation, as a constitutional right for all people.
+ The new Crime Amendment Bill officially decriminalizes homosexuality.
On April 14, the Cook Islands’ parliament voted in favor of the new Crime Amendment Bill, which legalizes homosexuality. The new bill will go into effect on Jun. 1 and will replace the 1969 Crimes Act.
Under the outdated act, homosexuality was punishable with up to 10 years of imprisonment. Although the law was never enforced, it prohibited “indecent acts between males.” This legal change was justified by a growing acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in the small state.
The new legislation also addresses other important concerns. Survivors of sexual abuse, assault, rape and other crimes will have new protections.
After the bill was introduced in 2017, many politicians had concerns. The new bill passed this year with cross-partisan support to reflect the country’s pro-LGBTQ+ stance.
Pride Cook Island president Karla Eggelton commented to RNZ about the parliament’s historic decision: “We are so grateful for all the people and all the organisations throughout our community who have been working tirelessly to make this happen. I think the message that we want to tell people is – hug your friend, hug your neighbour, hug your niece, hug your daughter, because now we are truly equal.”
Marriage equality is not included in this bill or any other legislation. The Marriage Amendment Act of 2000 still outlaws it, but the new Crime Amendment Bill is one win for the LGBTQ+ community in the state.
+ Gay prime minister criticizes Hungary’s attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community.
On April 17, the prime minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, who is openly gay, criticized EU member, Hungary, in the European Parliament during the plenary session for its attitude towards LGBTQ+ rights. Hungary, which tries to ban LGBTQ+ discussions in school, has been under much criticism in the past.
Bettel is known for speaking publicly about his sexual identity and as being an advocate for LGBTQ+ communities. At an EU-Arab League summit in Egypt in 2019, he had told the Arab leaders present that he was married to a man and would probably face capital punishment in many of their countries.
Bettel stated during the plenary session, “If there’s anyone in this house who thinks that you’ve become a homosexual by watching television or listening to a song, then you’ve not understood anything. The most difficult [thing] for a homosexual is to accept themselves.”
In addition to the discussion ban on LGBTQ+ matters in schools, the 2021 law prohibited sharing content on homosexuality or gender transition in films, advertisements, or any other media that aims at people under 18. School’s sex education programs also were prohibited to share information on homosexuality.
Besides Bettel, who has challenged Hungarian lawmakers during the past years, the European Union’s executive commission and various member states have tried to challenge Hungary in the EU’s Court of Justice. According to the European Commission, the law “discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Bettel also raised questions of safety. Soon, he and other openly LGBTQ+ people might face restrictions within countries of the European Union. He stated, “I am ashamed, Madam President, that some colleagues want to win votes at the expense of minorities. We’ve had that before in our history.”