Every month RESURJ members collectively share and reflect on some news highlights affecting sexual and reproductive, environmental and economic justice from the different regions and countries we work in.
In this latest edition of Reflections on Our Countries, RESURJ members and allies share feminist analysis and opinions on news and trends from Pakistan, Rwanda, India, and Mozambique.
Atiya Abbas, Aahung
The Aurat March had a successful second year to celebrate Women’s Day in Pakistan. Organized by Hum Aurtein, a collective of women from civil society, the Aurat March has been Pakistan’s most intersectional movement to date. Representing women from all religious, ethnic and minority groups, the members work together to raise issues that are pertinent to South Asian women at this point in time. Entirely funded by friends, family and those who believe in the cause, the Aurat March has no alliances with political parties, NGOs, iNGOs or corporations. The main belief driving the organizers is that every woman and non-binary person has right to life, dignity and basic amenities provided by the state. What started with a meeting of 15 people in a corner tea shop at Sindhi Muslim, Karachi, turned into a massive movement where marches were held in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, and Hyderabad.
As with every movement, Aurat March has received backlash from right wing and extremist groups. Following this year’s march, a police complaint was filed against “obscene” elements within society in which Aurat March organizers were named, and in the KPK Assembly a resolution condemning the Aurat March was passed. The march posters protested against sexual violence, the wage gap, anti-encroachment and many other issues. But with the backlash, this time the media pushed back and social media also played a huge role in showing that the march was not just the posters, it was much more. Aurat March has caused a ripple in the patriarchy and it is only going to get bigger.
Chantal Umuhoza, SPECTRA/ RESURJ
Recently, one of the debates that trended on social media in Rwanda was on the case of FAWE girls’ scholarship sparked by an article published in ‘Kigali Today’ on 3rd February highlighting that FAWE, a women’s rights NGO that champions girls education, plans to withdraw scholarships without prior notice to supported girls who get pregnant. There is evidence that indeed FAWE asks all girls they support to sign a commitment letter in which it is stipulated that the scholarship will be discontinued if a girl gets pregnant or married before finishing school. It sparked a hot debate among many people (myself included) with different positions.
There were mainly two opposing positions, where, on one side, some people defended that FAWE, as an independent entity, has all rights to provide scholarship with whichever conditions they desire and that this specific condition was an appropriate measure to prevent young people from having sex because they said this could lead to unwanted pregnancies and difficulty in completing school. On the other side, others argued that it was unnecessary and potentially more damaging to cut funding from vulnerable girls on basis of pregnancy, which is also forbidden under article 9 of the law punishing gender based violence. I took lead with this second argument.
This debate left me thinking about the many aspects to this issue and surprised at how there was no common position on something I assumed most would find problematic. Here I share further my analysis and opinion on three aspects of this issue.
This excerpt is from an article published on the South Feminist Voices blog. To read the full article, click here.
Jasmine Lovely-George, Hidden Pockets/ RESURJ
In India we are denied our right to abortion services, as it completely depends on the medical opinion of the doctor. Abortion as a service in India, for the longest time, has been completely controlled by doctors. Even if someone has to get an abortion, it is often doctors who get to decide whether they will proceed with the procedure or not. This is further controlled by the fact that doctors often allow their personal views to influence their decision on whether a young woman can receive the service or not. Being a single women further add barriers and woes to the story.
A recent bill ( Women’s Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Bill) introduced by a private member has invoked a lot of debate and interest in access to abortion.
The bill does two things that directly challenges the monopoly that doctors seem to have when it comes to deciding access to abortion services.
To begin with, the Bill aims to call abortion ‘Legal termination of pregnancy’,a shift from the current naming “Medical Termination of Pregnancy”. At present, the naming might suggest that abortion is available if the doctor agrees. It is still not women’s rights based. A shift to Legal termination might echo the fact that it is legal and women can go to a doctor and seek for abortion. In the previous naming “Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act”, the emphasis was often on the fact that it is a medical procedure and only under special conditions can it be done. Even though the act has been passed since 1972, it is still considered to be an illegal act by a lot of people. This spelling of the name of the Act might be helpful in highlighting the fact that it is legal.
The second major change that this bill aims to talk about, is the fact that it provides equal powers to midwives and nurses. his is a huge step in taking away the unfair and biased power from the medical doctors. In certain cases, especially when termination can easily be provided using medicines, a person trained in abortion can also be helpful in rural settings where there might not be easy access to doctors. This demand also has been repeated in the amendment bill that was introduced in Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1972.
We must demand to bring the conversations on women’s body out of the medical sciences and create a conscious effort to make it more women-centered and based on the experiences of women.
For more critical analysis around other aspects of the Bill, please visit: https://www.hidden-pockets.com/is-india-ready-for-law-on-periods/
Mozambique: My experience of CSW63 2019 / Minha Experiencia na CSW63- 2019
Mangia Macuacua- MovFemme
Mangia Macuacua, RESURJ ally from MovFemme Mozambique, shares her experience from the recent 63rd Commission on the Status of Women, including her participation in the RESURJ and DIVA for Equality convened, The Space.
Parte dos Eventos do CSW63, corresponderam ao tema principal o que tornou possível responder ao tema principal, e possibilitaram a constatação dos fatos: Para as mulheres jovens o Caucus, aconteceu em 11 de Março, onde buscou-se identificar os principais desafios/problemas que afectam as mulheres jovens, onde foi possível identificar as seguintes lacunas ou questões ausentes. Sendo necessário olhar a educação não de forma generalizada e sim uma educação de qualidade e igualitária para jovens mulheres (espaços seguros para educação, sem violência e assédio), qualidade serviços públicos, e inclusão da capacitação de qualidade das técnicas de saúde e serviços de segurança e proteção de equipamentos suficientes para atender a principal demanda do público e das comunidades.
Também foi boa e grande experiência juntar-me no grupo de linguagem, para trabalhar no processo de revisão das conclusões acordadas. Foquei no capítulo de protecção social. Este espaço deu a possibilidade de me inserir e poder contribuir para trazer a realidade das jovens africanas o que assegurou a inclusão. Das contribuições por mim feitas encontram-se: Formação para saúde serviços, técnicas de segurança e proteção para ter sensibilidade na violência contra mulheres, meninas e mulheres jovens; concessão da herança de forma igualitária para filhas e filhos com enfoque ao direito e controle de terra; dar proteção social para mulheres jovens em processo universitário como transporte grátis ou fazer desconto em transporte público; a comissão precisa reconhecer o assédio e a violência sexual nas escolas e na universidade; promover serviços públicos, infraestrutura a pessoas com deficiência.
A participação da mobilização de jovens foi uma oportunidade para discutir e compartilhar os desafios e a boa ação do movimento juvenil. Este espaço foi a possibilidade de compreender o desejo nível global a liderança da juventude uma vez que as lutas de algum modo são comuns: jovens, em particular, mulheres jovens feministas procuram inclusão nos espaços de tomada de decisão seja no âmbito político, social e economico, não ha espaço de negociação intergeracional para poder colocar na mesa os problemas e haver partilha de poder. É necessário reconhecer os papéis das artes nos ODS, observando como a TV, a rádio e o cinema podem ajudar no ativismo social; usando mídias sociais para defender nossas lutas.
Sobre o THE SPACE, tem sido um espaço que faz parte dos eventos da CSW criado e organizado pela RESURJ e DIVA for Equality onde acontece a reconstituição da identidade feminista, também para acolher e fortalecer as lutas dos movimentos feministas.
Em particular, eu gostaria de ter treinamento sobre advocacia porque eu ainda desejava que a perspectiva das jovens fosse muito importante no processo de revisão de leis e políticas nacionais, regionais e globais, porque algumas leis e políticas excluem as demandas ou necessidades das jovens, e a linguagem não é inclusiva, e faz com que muitas das pessoas não entendam e não usem as leis e políticas, como seus direitos, mas vê-os como um actor de favoritismo entre os governos e o povo.
- Continuar a apoiar as mulheres jovens no processo de advocacia;
- Realize um pequeno curso de advocacia para mulheres jovens, de forma a assegurar uma participação produtiva durante e fora ao CSW;
- Criar condições para explorar mais as situações de pessoas de países que possuem a língua portuguesa, como oficial.