Backsliding Democracies and Women’s Rights in the U.S. and Around the Globe

Can a democracy where women have never been equal ever really thrive? How are attacks on democracy tied to gender equity? What can we learn from past fights to protect and expand women’s rights in order to chart a path forward?

A two-part virtual discussion hosted by Ms. magazine in partnership with NYU Law’s Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Center and the 92Y explored these questions, plus how women’s rights are inextricably tied to the integrity and durability of democratic institutions—featuring Melissa Murray, Alexis McGill-Johnson, Ruth Ben-Ghiat and more.

An Introduction to Catalonia’s Feminist Administration

For many decades, sexual and reproductive rights have been at the core of the global feminist struggle—but only an unapologetically feminist administration puts them at the center of the political agenda. Such is the progressive turn the government of Catalonia, an autonomous region in northeastern Spain, assumed in May 2021 when it created a Ministry of Equality and Feminisms.

In October 2021, this new ministry drafted the national strategy for sexual and reproductive rights. This was founded on the premise that the personal is political, so it must also be public policy. This strategy sought to guarantee the effective exercise of existing rights—particularly abortion, long-term contraception and sexuality education.

Many women are now asking: What about perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause?

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.

This week: news from Hong Kong, Mexico, Denmark and more.

Afghan Women Voice ‘Deep Disappointment’ and ‘Dread’ Over Potential Taliban Recognition

In a nationwide women’s consultation, Afghan women have expressed ‘dread’ and ‘anxiety’ over the potential international recognition of the de facto authorities (DFA), with 67 percent stating it would severely affect their lives.

Among the participants, a majority stated that if such international recognition were to occur, it should only be contingent upon the removal of all restrictions in place by the Taliban against Afghan women and girls.

‘Invisible, Disappeared, Erased’: The Systematic Oppression of Afghan Women and Girls Since the Taliban Takeover

The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, leaving the Taliban as the de facto authorities. Since then, the Taliban has issued hundreds of repressive decrees designed to systematically oppress and marginalize Afghan women and girls, from denying them education, to restricting their movement.

Ms. sat down with Dr. Lauryn Oates, executive director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, a nonprofit organization that supports Afghan women and girls by investing in basic education, literacy and technology for education; providing grants and scholarships and other financial support; and engaging in policy advocacy to restore Afghan women and girls’ fundamental human rights and dignity.

“The Taliban’s treatment of women is a threat to women everywhere. Other groups are taking note that the Taliban is getting away with these restrictions, that it can literally strip women and girls of all rights and there’s no consequences.”

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Ranked-Choice Voting Will Open Doors for More Women and Minorities; Women Leaders Convene in Tanzania

Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation. 

This week, read about Arlington’s preparations for RCV in the upcoming November elections; celebrate Shirley Chisholm, who continues to receive high recognition as a new stage play prepares for its debut; explore the impact of the increase in women mayors in Turkey; learn about women leaders advocating for women’s leadership in politics and global health; and uncover why the U.N. is concerned about Georgia’s removal of electoral gender quotas.

A rejuvenating family vacation only strengthened my resolve. With the Fair Representation Act and ranked-choice voting gaining traction, I am optimistic about achieving gender balance in government in my lifetime.

The Terrifying Global Reach of the American Anti-Abortion Movement

When performed properly, abortion is considered extremely safe. But nearly half—45 percent—of the 73 million abortions performed worldwide each year are unsafe.

One big reason: American anti-abortion policies.

For decades, the U.S. has used the power of the purse to force poorer nations to abide by the anti-abortion values of American conservatives or forgo aid for family planning and other healthcare—giving women around the globe no alternative but to seek backstreet abortions that send some to emergency rooms and others to their graves.

Lessons from Bosnia to Gaza and the Urgency for Change

As someone who lived in a war zone for over five years, north of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, Sarajevo, I have borne witness to the horrors inflicted upon innocent souls women and children, my own community torn apart by violence and despair. Yet, in the face of such darkness, I have also seen the flicker of resilience, the unwavering spirit that refuses to be extinguished.

The failure of the international community to support a timely intervention in Bosnia has been well documented, but as I witness new conflicts across the globe in the three decades since, I see that we did not learn anything about protecting humanity. We cannot ignore the cries of innocent lives, including all the hostages caught in the crossfire of this conflict. Now is the time for decisive action; advocating to end relentless fighting and supporting urgent adequate delivery of humanitarian aid and medical assistance.