Global Roundup: Have We Failed in Promoting Women’s Rights?


Welcome to our new Weekly Global Reproductive Justice Roundup! Each week, reporter Jessica Mack will summarize reproductive and sexual health and justice news from around the world.  We will still report in depth on some of these stories, but we want to make sure you get a sense of the rest and the best.

Tibetan Nun Self-Immolates

An 18-year old Tibetan nun, who self-immolated last week in China, brings the count of recent self-immolations past 20, in protest of China’s continued human rights oppressions. While the vast majority of recent self-immolations have been men, three have been women – all nuns, says the Tibetan Women’s Association. A teenage nun self-immolating is particularly shocking and has drawn global attention to the growing protest. Tibet was occupied by China in 1951, under the auspices of liberation. His Holiness the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 and Tibetan efforts to regain freedom and independence have raged since. There is a history of Tibetan monks and nuns in protest, in part because they are already cut off from society and are seen as having nothing, or less, to lose. Via Global Post.  

Zimbabwe Women’s Rights Activists Detained
Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, founders of the social justice group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) have been arrested and are being held on charges of theft and kidnapping. WOZA has 70,000 members countrywide, and hundreds have been arrested and detained over the years, including for peaceful protests. Williams herself has been arrested 40 times. Amnesty International is concerned that current charges against the women are trumped up and that justice will not be served. You can show your support for the women via email here. WOZA calls attention to social, economic, and rights inequities for women in the country, something authorities are none too keen on. Via Guardian. 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Knows What’s Holding India Back
“India is poised to become a very significant player but, that role would be greatly, greatly enhanced, when women are given their proper place.” India has emerged as a global giant in the last decade, becoming a global donor in its own right and recently brushing off British aid to the country as unnecessary and mere “peanuts.” Yet stark gender inequity remains, from high rates of unsafe abortion – despite liberal laws –  to child marriage and sex-selective abortion, both illegal but still widely practiced. Tutu is in India with members of The Elders, promoting their global movement against child marriage called “Girls Not Brides.” An estimated 10 million girls under age 18 are married each year without their permission. Via Reuters.

Gay Rights Still Outstanding in Peru
February 12 is being celebrated by Peruvian gay rights advocates as the anniversary of “Peru’s Stonewall,” a year after a group of GLBTQ activists were beaten by police for kissing publicly to protest discrimination. Queer rights in Peru are largely a non-starter, with a marked resistance to publicly debating or addressing such issues among the courts and the legislature. Hate crimes are not officially criminalized and numerous sexual orientation discriminatory suits have stagnated in the judicial system. An investigation by the group Homosexual Movement of Lima found that one person is killed each week in Peru because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Via BBC.

Gender and Global Development Debate in London
IPPF recently organized a debate, “Women’s Empowerment and Sustainable Development: Have We Failed?” which brought together global experts at London’s Royal Society. Leymah Gbowee, Liberian peace activist and Nobel Laureate spoke, as did members of the UK and Norwegian governments, and IPPF’s Director-General Tewodros Melesse. The debate is the first in a series that will be held on this topic, an intersection too often overlooked. “The world has failed to translate women’s power into sustainable development,” Gbowee said. You can watch the video of the debate here.  Via IPPF.  

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  • lilithe-magdalene

    I am not too thrilled with this title. It is deafeatist. I would rasther ask, how far have we come and how far do we still have to go. We are battling over 5,000 years of worldwide misogyny – it takes time, and no one said the road would be steadily gained. We have a long ways to go, no doubt, but to say we are failing is depressing – and I believe an utter fallacy.

  • jessica-gender-across-borders

    I appreciate your feedback and I agree it’s rarely helpful to be defeatist. However, I don’t find the title to be defeatist, since it’s not a statement — it’s a question. I think the answer to that question is yes and no, which is all the more reason to double down on efforts ongoing. I think you can argue that we have failed in *certain ways* but, again, the title is simply posing the questions. Thanks!