Why is it still important to fight for women’s rights around the world?
By Daniela Cerón and Valeria Saray ***
Alejandra Monocuco was a Black Trans Sex Worker woman, HIV positive. This implied that her human rights were likely to be denied. During 2020, in Bogotá, Colombia, she died after paramedics failed to take her to the Hospital, because of the stigma that her body carried.
Svetlana Tijanóvskaya is a Belarusian human rights activist and politician who ran for the 2020 Belarusian presidential election as the primary opposition candidate. After a tense scrutiny process marked by violence and accusations of fraud, Alexandre Lukashenko won the presidential election with 80.23% of the votes. Tijanóvskaya was forced to flee to Lithuania and record an apologizing video where she calls on people to accept the official results and not protesting. Despite being in exile and under threat, she continues to be a strong voice in the struggle for political mobilizations in Belarus.
Somewhere in Kenya, an early morning in July, a woman organizes a once-in-a-lifetime “ceremony” for her 11-year-old niece. The girl’s genitals will be cut off as part of her cultural transition into adulthood. A few hours later, a telephone rings in an office in Nairobi. The phone is connected to the number 1195, the national helpline for gender-based violence. One of the girl’s relatives has called in to report the incident anonymously — she does not want to be considered as a family troublemaker (UN News, 2020).
These stories you just read are just a tiny piece of what women are currently living, every day, around the world.
This week we are commemorating the 46th International Women’s day. Yes, scarcely 46 years. Throughout history, women, in their diversity, have been afforded fewer rights and have had to work harder to realise their rights in practice because women’s rights have not always been a priority. After a centuries-long struggle, it was not until 25 years ago that during the Beijing Declaration women’s rights were explicitly recognised and articulated as human rights.
Nevertheless, worldwide, during the past 46 years not all women have been able to enjoy and exercise their rights in the same way; the lack of guarantees to access rights and the persistence of a patriarchal-binary system that strengthens hate speeches, prevents women in their diversity from living a life free of violence, making being a woman a risk itself and a source of inequality. Therefore, in recent years, women around the world have been mobilizing over and over with specific demands regarding women's rights.
Even the few advances made in recognising women’s rights in the last decades are suffering a setback thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdowns have meant an alarmingly increase in gender-based violence rates globally, as well as an increase in the unpaid work time that women employ to all the care and domestic workloads; also, more women have lost their jobs during this time.
Nowadays, it is common to hear that women have already achieved so much and no longer need to keep fighting for their rights worldwide, that International women’s day is almost an exaggeration. However, if you look at the bigger picture, quickly you can realise that women are not exaggerating.
As long as in Latin America and the Caribbean keep having the highest rates of gender-based violence (GBV) -1066 transgender women and 161 lesbians were murdered in the past five years and more than 4 thousand women are victims of feminicide every year- it is still important to fight for women’s rights and choose to challenge the patriarchal power structures to guarantee that every woman can live a life free of GBV.
While in Cambodia women are still considered guilty for being raped just for the way they dress; and in Belarus, women face gender restrictions to access to different job opportunities, and domestic violence victims are ignored, it is yet relevant to fight for women’s rights and choose to challenge gender bias and stereotypes in our daily life.
As long as in Kenya LBT (Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans) women keep being victims from “corrective collective rapes”; in Liberia GBV and rape rates keep having an alarming increase (50% in the last year); and in Africa more than 3 million girls keep suffering genital mutilation every year, it is still important to fight for women’s rights and choose to challenge misogyny in our communities so women can fully enjoy and access their human rights.
Consequently, women still have innumerable reasons to go to the streets every 8th March and keep fighting for their rights worldwide. As long as these unequal and unfair situations keep on going, ForumCiv has reasons to stand up and choose to challenge gender violence, bias, stereotypes and inequalities. Over 25 years, ForumCiv has supported and worked with women all around the world who choose to challenge in their daily life and in their territories to build a more just and sustainable world where all women in their diversity have the power to effect change. That's why today ForumCiv invites you to act and choose to challenge gender bias, stereotypes, inequalities, and gender-based violence every day.
How do you choose to challenge? (You can share your thoughts and opinions using the hashtag #ChooseToChallenge and tagging ForumCiv social media).
*** Members of the ForumCiv’s Global Gender Task Group.
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