Reflections On Our Countries – April 2020

May 11, 2020


In Reflections on Our Countries RESURJ members and accomplices collectively share and reflect on the interlinked issues and challenges affecting sexual and reproductive health, gender, environmental and economic justice from the different regions and countries we are from.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold we witness the magnifying effect of systems of privileges and oppression including racism, homophobia, classicism, gender-based violence as well as multiple forms of exploitation that perpetuate inequalities. The pandemic is also making evident the challenges with infrastructure, social systems, food security, authoritarianism and militarization as preexisting and aggravated realities in our countries. As such, the work and demands that global south feminist have been pushing for years are more important than ever. It is key not to lose sight of the structural challenges laid bare through this pandemic and to question the attempts to “fix” and “go back to” a system that we know is inherently broken. In this edition we will learn more about what is happening at the country level from members and accomplices in FijiRwanda, the UK and Uganda

Heads Up for all Women who are still standing strong in times of crisis!

COVID 19 has spread in our communities, with all its concerns and surprises. I see the government and specialists in the area of public health are doing a good job in defining COVID-19, advising the community on the ‘Do’s and the Don’ts’ and telling us how we can best protect ourselves from this deadly virus, for which there is yet no cure. Even though we are holding infections down, we have to be careful about a second wave. Let us keep going with social distancing, good hand washing, and stopping movement except for essential household needs and frontline work.

What we really need to talk about right now, is what COVID 19 is doing to us as people every day, particularly women and girls. There are interesting parts to this. We are adjusting our daily routines within what the lockdown can accommodate. Some of us are grateful for this lockdown because we can spend more time with family. And how about speaking out more for those that actually need to get out of the house in some way, to maintain their sanity and security from mistreatments they get from within their homes? What about those facing violence of any sort – physical, emotional and socially?

By Viva Tatawaqa, Fiji

This text is from an excerpt published on the Reflections on Our Countries blog. To read the full excerpt, click here.

Unpacking donor “humanitarian response”: Funding for social justice in the global south.

As I sit down and write this article as a leader of a non-for-profit feminist organization, I struggle to decide how we continue working on the different social justice projects that we are implementing. How to best effectively deliver and report to donors on the progress of what we had committed to do before the outbreak of COVID-19; issues that still remain critical and unaddressed, but in lockdown, such work isn’t categorized as “essential” and “humanitarian”.

Ever since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and the announcement by the World Health Organization that COVID-19 is a pandemic, most of the attention and resources from both donors and governments have been diverted to responding to the pandemic. Existing and new donor organizations are coming up with new funds (or shifting existing funds) to respond to this “humanitarian situation”,  making women’s rights organizations – especially those from the global south – whose work is focused on addressing multiple and intersecting inequalities –  to consider redirecting the limited funds they have  to direct COVID-19 response, and to also apply for new funds with COVID-19 response as the the priority issue. 

by Chantal Umuhoza, Rwanda

This excerpt is from an article published on the Reflections on Our Countries blog. To read the full article, click here. 

Female Sex Workers (FSWs) torn between starving or surviving at risk of their own health & safety.

The criminalized environment in which Female Sex Workers (FSWs) operate not only makes them prone to violence linked to enforcement of COVID-19 regulations but also leaves them torn between starving or pushing for survival and risk of their own health and safety.  

“I would rather die of COVID-19, or be flogged than sit back as I watch my children die of starvation” said Patricia a Kampala based FSW. “One evening, while I sat there helplessly watching my little ones grappling with their second night on an empty stomach, I received this phone call from one of my clients.  I couldn’t stand their angry starving looks. So I sneaked out to meet him. On my way, I was ambushed by stick wielding and armed men who subjected me to fierce beatings. I sustained excruciating injuries on my buttocks and back and spent the night in jail. The following day, my colleagues sold my table to secure my release.”  This event was shared by Patricia during a recent assessment. Patricia is one of the 130,359 FSWs in Uganda (Uganda’s KP size estimation report 2019). 

by Macklean Kyomya, Uganda

This excerpt is from an article published on the Reflections on Our Countries blog. To read the full article, click here.

COVID-19 Responses: Let’s not forget the lessons from Global South Feminists

Much coverage has been given to the response by women leaders globally to the Covid-19 crisis, and how their robust and quick strategies have resulted in low infection rates and deaths. Although these responses have seemingly come as a surprise to analysts, it may be even more surprising for them to learn that feminist leadership extends way beyond and before the mostly white and northern women leaders that they are praising. These leaders are establishing practices rooted in values and approaches that South feminists, women of color, women with disabilities, indigenous women, and LBT women, have been calling for over decades, centuries in some cases. Also, these leaders’ future actions must go further in addressing the systems of power that have both led to this crisis, and exacerbated it, and must seek to dismantle and rebuild these systems, to ensure true transformation.  

Commentators have queried what has been most effective about the responses of these leaders, suggesting for example levels of empathy, the willingness to rely on sound expertise and advice,  even comparing their approach to the ‘poverty of imagination’  and ‘war fixation’ of their male counterparts. The distinctions are clear in the ways many of these leaders have addressed the crisis, especially comparatively with other leaders that have used the Covid-19 crisis to make further gains towards authoritarian control. We must however, be cautious not to place “women leaders” in one single homogenous box as a result of their gender, which reinforces harmful stereotypes that claim women are ‘natural care takers’ or even that women in leadership positions guarantees a feminist, or even a human rights approach.

by Mari-Claire Price, UK

This excerpt is from an article published on the Reflections on Our Countries blog. To read the full article,click here.