Ms. Global: Iran Passes New Hijab Laws, Mexico Moves to Elect First Female President, Western Australia Decriminalizes Abortion

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 moves towards electing its first female president in next year’s election

Next June, Mexicans will most likely choose between two women at the polls. Former mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum will be running as presidential candidate for the dominant party, Moreno, in the 2024 June election. Sheinbaum is currently leading the polls with the full support of current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. 

The Frente Amplio por Mexico (Broad Front for Mexico), the opposition coalition, selected businesswoman and lawmaker Xóchitl Gálvez as its candidate. Gálvez comes from an Indigenous background and is a former street food vendor who rose to success as a tech entrepreneur, and has served as senator since 2018. “She is going to get us all out of the hole, the Indigenous people, the poorest, the middle class,” said Hector Chavez, a supporter of Gálvez, according to Reuters.

This race is a historic first in a country plagued by femicides and airs of machismo. Mexico’s strong “macho vote” is not exclusive to male voters, said Gloria Alcocer Olmos, director of an electoral magazine, according to the Associated Press. Alcocer Olmos explained that voter turnout was exceptionally low in past elections with two female candidates. Nonetheless, many hope this election will see increased engagement, with such formidable candidates.


(Photo by Getty Images)

+ The approval of Iran’s ‘Hijab Bill’ means that women could be imprisoned for up to 10 years if they violate hijab rules.

Iran’s parliament has approved new legislation which imposes harsher penalties on women who do not comply with hijab rules. Failure to comply with the country’s hijab rules will result punishments ranging from fines to up to 10 years imprisonment and a two-year travel ban.

The new legislation was passed in late September, and will penalize women who do not correctly wear their hijab in public and men who wear “revealing clothing that shows parts of the body lower than the chest or above the ankles.”

The move comes exactly one year after the death of Mahsa Amini sparked massive protests among Iranian women and around the globe. Amini was killed while in the custody of the Iranian Guidance Patrol after being arrested for wearing her hijab improperly.


+ Brazil is one step closer to decriminalizing abortion nationwide 

Brazil is joining the growing number of Latin American countries that are moving towards decriminalizing abortion. They currently allow the procedure solely when the mother’s health is at risk or in cases of rape or incest. This was prompted by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Rosa Weber, who pushed the issue forward and cast her vote in favor of the legislation. This motion would decriminalize abortions up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

Abortion is a huge health issue in Brazil–around 1 million unsafe abortions occur annually, of which 250,000 result in hospitalizations and 200 result in death, according to a health ministry official in 2018.

This comes after a particularly distressing case concerning an 11-year-old victim of rape who was denied an abortion and was only able to go through with the procedure at 29 weeks, which has pushed those like Justice Weber to change the status quo. 

“Criminalizing the conduct of voluntarily interrupting the pregnancy, without restrictions,” Weber wrote, “hits the core of women’s rights to freedom, self-determination, intimacy, reproductive liberty and their dignity,” according to the Associated Press


+ Per new law, one-third of the Indian Parliament must be women

The legislature in India passed a law that held one-third of seats in Parliament—specifically, in the lower house and in state legislatures—must be women. The upper house of the Indian Parliament is chosen by members of the state legislature, rather than the citizens. 

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, told The New York Times that the law is “a golden moment of India’s  parliamentary journey that is aimed at enabling greater participation of women in our political process.”

However, this law will not pertain to the next national election in India, which will take place next year. 

“I want to ask, in the past 13 years, women have waited patiently for this bill,” said Sonia Gandhi, the longest serving president of the Indian National Congress. “But now, our women have been asked to wait for some more years. How many years?”


+ Catalonia’s new initiative will provide reusable menstrual products for free

Spain’s Catalonia region is following in Scotland’s footsteps with a new partnership between the Catalan government and the Catalan Pharmaceutical Association that will make menstrual cups, period pants and pads available for free. This will start in 2024 and is projected to help 2.5 million people with periods in the region in an effort to counter period poverty and promote menstrual equality.

This measure is multi-dimensional since its focus on reusable products is expected to reduce the 9,000 tons of waste produced by tampons and sanitary pads annually. It comes after Spain’s new law last year that made schools, prisons, and public institutions provide free menstrual products at their facilities. 

+ FIFA finally bars former soccer chief for kissing a player non-consensually

On October 30th, Luis Rubiales was officially banned from “all football-related activities at the national and international level for three years” following a suspension and resignation from his position as president of Spain’s soccer federation, according to FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee.

In September, a restraining order was issued against Rubiales while the investigation is underway. Although this is a more permanent measure, there is still a chance Rubiales might appeal the decision.

Rubiales (right) gives Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (left) a jersey, June 2018. (Wikimedia Commons)

Western Australia

+ Abortion has been decriminalized in Western Australia

Western Australia decriminalized abortion through amended laws that were passed into parliament in late September. Previously, abortion was mentioned within Western Australia’s criminal code. Now, women are able to obtain abortions more easily. 

“We believe that it’s everyone’s right to be able to access safe, affordable, and legal reproductive services,” Premier Roger Cook told the Guardian in an interview. “It is clear that the community and Western Australian women want these reforms.”

The laws have decreased restrictions on abortions, such as eradicating the limitations of late-term abortion and mandatory counseling, and allow more doctors to perform the procedure.


+ The only all-women newsroom in Somalia shows the dangers of being a female reporter

Fathi Mohamed Ahmed, who leads Bilan Media, the only all-women newsroom in Somalia, says that it is “one of the most dangerous places on the planet to be a reporter.” Statistics from the Reporters Without Borders name Somalia as the most dangerous country to be a journalist. Ahmed’s newsroom covers local news, including taboo topics such living with HIV and menstrual education, making the reporters even more at risk.

“Sometimes my soul tells me I cannot continue the work because of insecurity and societal pressure. However, it is a career that I loved since my childhood and a dream which still lives in me,” Ahmed said in an interview with Reuters.

Israel-Gaza War

+ Over 3,648 children and 2,290 women have been killed in Gaza since October 7

In the wake of Oct. 7th’s attack by Hamas on Israel, ensuing air strikes have killed thousands, and left tens of thousands more injured. Casualties are primarily women and children, and concentrated in Gaza—per Aljazeera, as of Nov. 1 at least 8,796 had been killed in the region, including 3,648 children and 2,290 women (the population of Gaza is more than 50 percent children, per NPR.)

“The vast majority of decision-makers and violence-purveyors on both sides of this current war are men who have long made clear they have little interest in women’s rights, freedoms, or even basic safety,” wrote Jill Filipovic on Substack. “The vast majority of people who are suffering from this war are women and their children.”

Members of Women Wage Peace, an Israeli grassroots peace movement, take part in a rally calling for coexistence and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along Jerusalem’s Old City walls, on May 19, 2021. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)

As the region continues to experience resource instability, with many suffering from limited access to food and water, doctors and NGOs are warning that pregnant women and their babies will pay the price. With the health ministry announcing that the health system is “state of complete collapse,” seeing multiple hospitals destroyed in the bombardment and those that remain being under-resourced, many expecting mothers fear the worst. UN Women estimates that there are 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, with 5,522 expected to deliver in the next month. “My baby was feeling every explosion,” one woman told UNFPA.

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About and

Val Diez Canseco is a Ms. editorial intern and a sophomore at Tulane University studying international relations and English. She is passionate about reproductive rights and health access, political frameworks in the Global South, and legal processes and systems. You can follow more of her work here.
Clara Scholl is a Ms. editorial intern and is completing her undergraduate studies at New York University. She is the arts editor for NYU's independent student newspaper, Washington Square News. Clara has previously worked as a girl advocate with the Working Group on Girls at the UN Commission on the Status of Women from 2018 to 2021. You can find her on Twitter @scholl_clara.