Ms. Global: Feminists Protest in Spain, Taliban Arrest Women for ‘Bad Hijab’, and More

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.

The United States

+ Global reproductive experts around the world ‘sound the alarm’ on U.S. reproductive rights

On December 11, international experts and leading advocates met for a virtual press conference to discuss the current state of affairs regarding reproductive rights in the United States. 

The conference was hosted just after the 75th International Human Rights Day, and described the “backsliding of basic human rights in the U.S. since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and outline the solutions that must be taken immediately to restore and advance human rights in this critical moment.” 

The event was organized by Dr. Anu Kumar, the President and CEO of lpas, an international organization which works to expand abortion and contraception access globally. 

Dr. Kumar spoke with Akila Radhakrishnan, President of Global Justice Center and Payal Shah, Director of Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones on how “the U.S. has fallen behind on the international stage and the implications of this democratic backsliding for advocates combating the global anti-rights movement.”

Despite this, as Dr. Kumar points out, “every single ballot initiative in the United States on abortion rights has been successful. The American people have defended abortion rights in every location. I am optimistic that the public has woken up.”


+  Taliban arrest women for wearing ‘bad hijab’

On January 4, a Taliban spokesperson confirmed that the Taliban have arrested women in Kabul for “bad hijab.” This is the first confirmation that a woman has been imprisoned for breaking dress code since the Taliban came to power in 2021. 

The spokesperson, Abdul Ghafar Farooq from the Vice and Virtue Ministry, did not specify the number of arrests or a definition of “bad hijab.” He did mention that “the ministry has heard complaints about women’s lack of correct hijab in the capital and provinces for almost two-and-a-half years.”

In this picture taken on February 13, 2023, Afghan girls learn the holy Koran at a madrassa or an Islamic school on the outskirts of Kabul. (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

“These are the few limited women who spread bad hijab in Islamic society,” Farooq told ABC. “They violated Islamic values ​​and rituals, and encouraged society and other respected sisters to go for bad hijab. In every province, those who go without hijab will be arrested”


+  Gender Equality Mainstreaming Program emerges in response to destructive earthquakes

The Gender Equality Mainstreaming Program, a collaborative effort by The Community Volunteers Foundation and UN Women, aims to empower young women impacted by the earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş in February 2023. Through an 18-month training program, it addresses gender disparities and provides support centers to enhance awareness and resilience among affected youth.

“We observed that there is an increased burden on young women in the aftermath of the earthquakes.” Hazal Günel, Gender Equality Programs Specialist told UN Women. “Young women found themselves taking on the care responsibilities for the elderly, disabled and children. This, in turn, made it challenging for them to continue their education or pursue employment. Moreover, they lost spaces for socializing. To address these issues, we established support centers for the psychosocial well-being of affected youth, particularly young women.”

The program is 18 months and targets youth ages 17-25. 


+  Feminists in Madrid protest outside the Ministry of Equality

A group of feminist activists stood outside the Ministry of Equality last week to protest the systemic oppression faced by women in Spain. 

According to Feminist Giant, the protesters were “fueled by a chilling statistic: 100 women in Spain were killed in 2023 because of their gender, yet only 55 of these murders were acknowledged in the government’s official reports.”

The protestors were masked and dressed in white, symbolic for the “battle against the systemic oppression that women face daily.”

A feminist strike in Zaragoza, Spain, 2018. (Wikimedia Commons)

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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.