In this edition of 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.
The devastation and destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding in many parts of the world. Various countries are grappling with unprecedented challenges with infrastructure, social systems, food security, authoritarianism, and militarization. These challenges have also added to the already existing inequalities and obstacles that marginalized communities face – increased gender based violence, impact of devastation caused by natural disasters, access to vaccine and healthcare, and more. In this edition, we will learn more about specific challenges and current contexts, from members and accomplices in Brazil, Egypt, Mozambique, and Zambia.
When we talk about sexual and reproductive rights, the situation in Brazil is serious. The election of Bolsonaro has waged an ideological war. Several setbacks are part of his government projects that were designed without a scientific basis. This equation puts the lives of thousands, especially women and girls, at risk.
In August we followed the case of the 10-year-old girl who had to travel more than 1,500 kilometers to access an safe abortion. The country where, according to the Brazilian Yearbook of Public Safety, every hour 4 girls under 13 years of age are raped, is not able to ensure a quick and humanized response to a child victim of sexual violence. In another State, where she got a place to do the procedure, she was harshly harassed by fundamentalist groups. To protect her life, the victim had to enter a protection program and change her name and residence.
Reflections On Our Countries: By Gisela Foz, Brazil
In the midst of the spread of religious fundamentalism, resistance through faith is at the root of Brazilian history. Despite the faith misrepresented by the patriarchs, the deities are greater than the swords, fire and fundamentalist tortures and, for many Brazilian women, the resistance communes with faith.
For women practicing religion, detaching their faith from the feminist struggle does not make sense, because fundamentalist discourses try, daily, to bring setbacks into the lives of women or dissonant bodies, as they do not believe that bodies should wear the freedoms they are entitled.
Reflections On Our Countries: By Coletivo Fé.ministas, Brazil
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought about grave consequences to the lives of women everywhere, and in Brazil, we cannot see how or when it will get better. In March and April of 2020, the World Bank released a report that shows a 22% increase in feminicides compared to the same períod in 2019.
When we talk about the feminization of poverty, we find that gender inequality caused by the accumulation of domestic work and domestic violence, has an even greater impact on impoverished women and families led by women. It’s an intersectional issue that articulates gender, class and race.
Reflections On Our Countries: By Mari Malheiros, Brazil
On February 26, 2020, the first case of Covid-19 in Brazilian territory was confirmed. From that moment to the present day, the number of diagnoses, hospitalizations, and deaths in the face of the greatest health crisis of the century is increasing. Women – especially black and peripheral young women – saw their lives substantially worsened with the advancement of Covid-19 – being forced to live with the cruel combination of hunger, poverty, violence, neglect, unemployment, and extensive and intensive workloads.
Although state attention was insufficient to contain the pandemic’s progress, it mobilized forces (and/or took responsibility against the mobilized forces) which violated the sexual and reproductive rights of women, girls, and people with utero, throughout this period.
Reflections On Our Countries: By Coletivo Mangueiras, Brazil
Since the beginning of 2021, Egypt’s senate and parliament discussions around a bill amending some provisions of the Penal Code toughening penalties for female genital mutilation (FGM), came under spotlight. Some of those discussions that infiltrated the media provoked a 90’s nostalgia, in which the majority of members asserted the need for more punitive reactions to a never dying practice, while debating the vitality of the cutting and the cultural and religious reasoning maintaining this harmful practice.
On April 28, the Egyptian parliament approved the bill. Without counting here how many more years behind bars were thought be enough to end a life-long practice, the new amendments recognize the role of health service providers in sustaining FGM practices. They stipulate a tougher punishment if the offender is a nurse or a doctor
Reflections On Our Countries: By Nana Abuelsoud, Egypt
Speak softly, close your legs, lower your head, women look after the house and their husbands, – but why?
When we were younger it seemed to be just a story of our ancestors. Today, after centuries, we feel the weight and pain of being a woman in this world that kills women who dare to say no, condemns those who decided to follow their destiny outside the cages of the patriarchy.
Reflections On Our Countries: By Mulheres Jovens em acção, Angelina Magibire e Sílvia Dywili, Mozambique
COVID 19 continues to change and affect different aspects of our lives and in an effort to adapt to the prevailing changes, the national, regional and global advocacy spaces have looked for other ways of gathering to deliberate and influence action points. While this has provided an opportunity for most to carry the work forward, there are some considerations which have not been made that further exclude historically marginalized persons from meaningful participation. Notably, I agree that the digital era of conducting meetings and forums has provided an opportunity for more people to access these spaces without leaving the comfort of their homes, it has also birthed challenges that could reverse the gains made if the barriers to meaningful participation are not addressed.
Reflections On Our Countries: By Sibusiso Malunga, Zambia
Social media was once a safe haven for most people – a place to take a break from the stress of day to day life. However, it has now become a jungle of hateful trolls, bullies and misogyny, with their prey being the Zambian women. The past months, we have seen daily posts by men thrashing women who choose to study to be nurses, citing that it’s the easiest thing to do after they are tired of being “prostitutes”. This particular post brought an uproar on the Zambian Facebook platform from women and men alike, and was eventually pulled down.
This begs the question, should a woman not feel safe anywhere?
Reflections On Our Countries: By Theo Mubanga, Zambia