Ms Global: Thailand on Track to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, Denmark Mandates Military Service for Women 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.


+ Denmark to mandate military service for women for the first time

Denmark introduced a proposal to conscript women into military service for the first time as part of a strategic overhaul of its armed forces in response to escalating tensions between Europe and Russia and the continuing war in Ukraine on March 13.

As part of its defense plan for 2024 to 2033, Denmark aims to draft 5,000 conscripts annually starting from 2026, including both men and women. Last year, around 4,700 people did military service, with about 1,000 women participating voluntarily, for a duration of four months on average. The government, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said, wants “full equality between the sexes” and plans to extend the length of military service from four to 11 months.

Denmark’s defense minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, said, “It is absolutely crucial that we get a more robust conscription in Denmark when we have to build up the Danish defense. Therefore, a broader basis for recruiting that includes all genders is needed,” The Guardian reports. 

The proposals are pending legal approval, with discussions among parties scheduled in the upcoming weeks. However, in June of 2023, a wide majority in the Folketinget, Denmark’s parliament, reached a consensus on a defense agreement specifying increased equality in conscription practices.


+ Thailand on track to legalize same-sex marriages

Thailand’s House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage on March 27, bringing the nation one step closer to becoming the third country in Asia to guarantee equal marital rights.The lower house of parliament passed the bill following a third and final reading, with 400 representatives voting in favor. Only 10 members opposed the bill.

Thailand’s proposed bill redefines marriage as a union between two people, instead of specifying it must be between a woman and a man. This change aims to provide LGBTQ+ couples with equal rights, including tax benefits, inheritance rights, and the authority to make medical decisions for incapacitated partners. Additionally, the bill proposes to extend adoption rights to these couples. 

“The amendment of this law is for all Thai people. It is the starting point to create equality,” Danuphorn Punnakanta, a lawmaker who chairs the lower house’s committee on marriage equality, told Parliament, The New York Times reports. “We understand that this law is not a universal cure to every problem, but at least it’s the first step toward equality in Thai society.”

The bill still requires approval from the Senate and endorsement from the king before marriage equality can become reality in Thailand, a process that could still take months. Should it be enacted, Thailand would become the first country in Southeast Asia to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

Hong Kong

+ Hong Kong sets strict surgical requirements for changing gender on ID cards

Hong Kong will permit transgender people to change their gender on ID cards without undergoing full sex reassignment surgery. However, activists are raising concerns over the new stringent surgical and hormonal requirements.

The government announced the change on April 3, “having prudently considered the objective of the Policy, relevant legal and medical advice, as well as drawing reference from the relevant practices overseas.”

The revised requirements include the removal of breasts for transgender men, and removal of penis and testes for transgender women. They must also undergo continuous hormonal treatment for at least two years before the gender change ID application is made.

Participants hold a pride flag at a Pride parade, Hong Kong, 2014. (Wikimedia Commons)

Christine Chu, a legal and operation manager at Quarks, a peer network for transgender youth based in Hong Kong, and a transgender woman, said that the new requirements were particularly unfair for transgender women, as asking them to remove genitalia was “a forced sterilization”, Reuters reports.

Zephyrus Tsang, a trans male activist and cofounder of Quark told South China Morning Post he worries that the new policy might influence the decisions of transgender people, and potentially lead them to take risks they wouldn’t otherwise take.


  • Senegalese women farmers organize for land and seed sovereignty

In Senegal, women farmers make up 70 percent of the agricultural workforce and produce 80 percent of the crops, but have little access to land, education, and capital compared to men. We Are The Solution, a rural West African women-led movement is working to change that. 

Under the leadership of Senegalese farmer Mariama Sonko, the 115,000-strong organization is growing by the minute. Traveling across southern Senegal, Sonko trains women farmers who traditionally have no access to education. She informs them of their right to land ownership as farmers, helping them find pathways to financing their agricultural projects.

“Women don’t own land—that’s what African tradition says,” Sonko tells the Associated Press. “So the fact that they don’t own the land means that they can’t fully invest in land that doesn’t belong to them. For years now, we have been organizing associations of women who ask for or rent land.”

When rural women own land, Sonko believes it will have a ripple effect through communities. Women are involved in every step of agricultural production: in the field, in conservation where women are the ones making efforts to conserve native seeds; in animal husbandry; in food processing; in marketing; in selling food at the local level; and as consumers.

“We work from dawn until dusk, but with all that we do, what do we get out of it?” Sonko asked. “My great fight in the movement is to make humanity understand the importance of women.”


  • A mutual-aid movement gains traction in Mexico City, spurring the rise of “feminist markets”

In Mexico City’s Alameda Central park, women wearing green and purple scarves—the colors of Latin America’s equality movement—are populating the streets with handcrafted banners and merchandise in the name of feminist solidarity. 

Selling and trading items like secondhand clothes, jewelry, and art, these populous mercaditas feminista, or feminist markets, are a statement against Mexico’s ongoing gender inequalities. One of the epicenters of the #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) movement against femicide, Mexico has seen a rise in violence against women since the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately one in four murders in Mexico are femicides, with a conviction rate of merely 5 percent. 

For most of the 600 participants, a number estimated by the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City (CDHCM), these markers are a place of social and economic refuge from threats of violence. 

Women take part in a protest during the International Safe Abortion Day at the Zocalo main square, in Mexico City, Mexico on September 28, 2022. (Photo by Daniel Cardenas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

In addition to selling merchandise, the women support each other — one participant named Nelly López, 64, for example, provides legal and social assistance, especially for those who survived gendered violence. “The state has failed us. So we only have each other. If we don’t save ourselves, no one saves us,” she tells The Guardian.

Although feminist vendors like López still face harassment from police and onlookers, they have gained local recognition, even earning the city human rights commission endorsement for making significant strides in social, political, and economic equality. 

“Part of our philosophy is to underscore the act of seizing public spaces as women and gender dissidents—a political stance,” another participant named Marchigua says. “It’s about showcasing our capacity to sustain ourselves and generate our own resources.”


  • As Sudan’s civil war hits its one year-mark this April, Sudanese women describe their experiences amid the world’s largest displacement crisis. 

Since the bloody civil war between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces broke out on the 15th of April last year, over six million people have been displaced internally, while two million refugees have fled to neighboring countries. Among these millions are Sudanese women who are increasingly vulnerable to gendered violence and health inequities. 

Hanin Ahmed, a young activist in the city of Omdurman, tells UN Women how humanitarian aid and women’s kits are too frequently intercepted and blocked by the warring parties, affecting everything from pregnancy to sexual violence care. 

A woman named Somaya, for example, was pregnant when she fled her village in Western Darfur with her children. “They killed my father in the mosque after the evening prayer,” she tells the International Committee of Red Cross. “When I heard what happened, I ran to the mosque. He died in my arms.”

Walking for hours and sick from shock and exhaustion, she recalls immediately collapsing as she arrived in the town of Adré in the neighboring nation of Chad. A month later, she gave birth to a baby girl under a tarp and immediately went back to work as a domestic laborer.

Activists say that Somaya’s story is all too common. Shaza Bala Elmahdi, the Sudan Country Director for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), says to UN women: “In the time of the war, women are not necessarily killed because of bullets or bombs. They are killed by having less access to basic social needs.” 

Women are interviewed under the shade of a tree outside at a camp for the internally displaced in al-Suwar, about 15 kilometres north of Wad Madani, on June 22, 2023. The fighting in Sudan between the regular army, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), headed by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, has claimed more than 2,000 lives since April 15. The latest in a series of ceasefires that have all been systematically violated ended early on June 21, and fighting resumed within minutes. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Ahmed and Elmahdi are among the many women fighting to bring women’s particular vulnerabilities amidst war on the international stage, and many of them demand that women be included in peacemaking and aid processes. 

“Sudanese women are very resilient and have been for decades fighting for peace and the return to democracy. They strongly aspire to live in a life without fear violence,” tells UN Women’s Sudan Country Representative, Adjaratou Ndiaye. “They are always calling for the return to democratic governance, and it is very important that this is highlighted.” 

The United States

  • The Commission on the Status of Women, the United Nation’s largest annual gathering on gender, disrupted by extremist groups.

The Commission on the Status of Women, the United Nation’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and gender empowerment, was held last month from March 11-22. This year’s priority theme was “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

Leaders, activists and non-governmental organizations from around the world discussed how they can better serve the women and girls in their communities. 

This year, a number of extremist groups protested outside of the conference. They claimed that the United Nations was “trying to impose gender ideology nonsense” and held large banners with sexist and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. 

“Anti-gender groups agitating against basic human rights is a standard feature of negotiations and side events at CSW,” said Gillian Kane, the Director of Global Policy & Research for Ipas, a global abortion rights organization. “As these groups immure themselves with their like-minded conservative member state partners, progressive civil society groups are the counterbalance, piercing these blocks of misinformation and anti-rights rhetoric by providing scientific and human-rights based information, continuing to advocate both for the original promise of  the Beijing Platform of Action and the present day needs of women and girls.”

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About , and

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.
Kiara Alvarez is an editorial intern at Ms. and student at Smith College, focusing on History and Women and Gender Studies. Her academic and writing interests include transnational feminism, environmental justice, histories of gender and sexuality, and feminist pop culture analysis.
Wakaba Oto is an editorial intern at Ms. and is completing her undergraduate degree in English and journalism at Fordham University. She is passionate about investigative journalism, with a focus on uncovering misconduct in government and corporate sectors. She has roots in Amsterdam and Tokyo.