Join us and show #feministsolidarity for LGBTQI communities around the world

This May 17 on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we’re asking FRIDA supporters all over the world to share why they think it’s important to stand with the LGBTQI community. Join us! #feministsolidarity

IDAHOT new

The rights of LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer, and Intersex) communities to freely express themselves and live quality and violence free lives is an inseparable value of feminism.

Heteronormativity – the way in  which people pass judgement on appropriate behaviour for men and women – legitimises gender and sexual discrimination and is one of the most powerful restrictions on women and LGBTQI people’s sexualities, bodies, dignity, and expression.

On May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we are publicly proclaiming that the right of LGBTQI communities to freely express themselves and live a quality, violence free life is an inseparable value of feminism. We are asking you to stand with us and reaffirm our commitment and celebrate gender and sexual diversity within the feminist movement and trans, bisexual and intersex inclusion.

Click here to tell us why you’re standing with the LBTQI community. Or tell us on Twitter! We’ll be sharing all everyone’s responses throughout the day on FRIDA’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

Same-sex relations between adults, and identities and expressions that are non-conforming to traditional gender norms remain criminalized in more than 70 countries. They stand opposed to principles non-discrimination and fuel hatred and violence—in effect giving homophobia, transphobia and biphobia state-sponsored approval.

Groups working all over the world need your messages of support as they continue their challenging and, often, risky work. They need to know that you are standing with them. At the end of the day, we will gather all the messages we receive and share them with all of our grantee partners who are working on these issues from Indonesia to Chile to Serbia and beyond.

Send us your message of solidarity or tell us on Twitter why you stand with the LGBTQI community!

Recognising the importance of this struggle as part of the young feminist movement, we are also excited to announce the publication of our second impact report Shaking the Ground Coloring the Sky. This exclusive report looks at the challenges, strategies and impact of FRIDA’s LBTQI grantee partners and explores their work on LBTQI rights, trans* rights and gender and sexual diversity.

Finally, this week FRIDA grantee partner Transvoice is working with The Fearless Collective to create an incredible public mural in Bogor, West Java that will show what it means to be fearless in a country plagued with discrimination. This artivism workshop is the first in a series of public art workshops, which The Fearless Collective will be doing along with FRIDA grantee partners around the world. Click here to learn more about the collaboration #FearlesslyFRIDA.

FRIDA believes that International Days like #IDAHOT2016 are exciting opportunities for women’s and feminist groups to celebrate trans and intersex inclusion, and gender and sexual diversity within the feminist movement. Ask others to show their solidarity today by sharing this moment on Twitter or posting about it on Faceook.

FRIDA grantee advocates for sex workers rights at CSW

FRIDA supported Juliet Katongole, the Executive Director of Crested Crane Lighters, to attend the 60th Commission for the Status of Women in New York City last month. Juliet joined an expert panel to discuss the best policies to strengthen the human rights of sex workers. Crested Crane Lighters is a young feminist group that aims to protect and advance the rights of women sex workers and their children in Uganda. They do this by advocating for the adoption of international human rights policies in national legislation and by working to document and report violence experienced by young sex workers. Crested Crane Lighters is one of our grantee partners from the Sub Saharan Africa region. We caught up with with Juliet about her experience at the international forum. Here are some excerpts:

What were your key learnings or takeaways from the session?

Since it was my first experience being a panelist at an international forum, I gained more confidence by presenting my work and meeting and networking with other people globally, talking about the human rights of sex workers. My takeaway from the session was to look more at the un-answered questions from people who do not support sex workers’ rights and see how we can bring them on board and work amicably with them.

Pic credit: @BtripleP on twitter

Pic credit: @BtripleP on twitter

Why is it important for a group like Crested Crane Lighters to be heard at the CSW?         

It is important for us to be heard because most people don’t know the human rights violations that happen every single day in the lives of sex workers in Uganda. It is also important because it helps create more visibility for Crested Crane Lighters as a grassroots organization.

Activists and supporters of sex work and sex workers movement pose for the camera in NYC.

Activists and supporters of sex work and sex workers movement pose for the camera in NYC.

What was your biggest challenge?        

The weather that wasn’t friendly to me! But apart from that, I attended some more sessions that I thought were friendly and open to the rights of sex workers but on reaching [them], I found that they were not. This is a challenge for the larger sex workers movement.

What was your biggest accomplishment?        

My biggest accomplishment was [presenting] my work and experience at the expert panel and [talking] about the best policies that can support the human rights of sex workers. In addition, attending the UN Women meeting to challenge the Swedish model was another significant accomplishment, where they wanted to push forward a policy that criminalises sex work. As sex workers and advocates for the rights of sex workers, we attended the meeting and opposed it, making everyone understand and realise that we cannot operate when our clients are criminalized. We advocated for decriminalization as the best policy for sex workers.

Massive thank you to Open Society Foundations for supporting us and making this possible!

Click here to catch up on the live tweets and discussions of the panel discussion on storify.

Click here to learn more about FRIDA’s presence at the 60th CSW.

Click here to read the 2016 Young Feminist Caucus Statement.

Human Rights Defenders Paying a Heavy Price to Ensure Gender Justice

Berta Cáceres’ assassination reminds us of the systemic violence targeting women who dare to challenge patriarchy and capitalism. Ayesha Constable writes.

On March 3, Berta Cáceres, Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader of the Lenca people, and co-founder and coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, was killed by masked men who broke into her home. Her killing has sparked international outcry from environmentalists, human rights activists and ecofeminist groups who are calling for an end to savage the attacks on activists. The most recent tragedy has also brought into sharp focus the global nature of the crisis regarding the violence targeting environmentalists. The matter has become a human rights issue and the Human Rights Watch World Report of 2013 explained that activists vocal in opposing mining and energy operations that they say threaten the environment and will displace tribal communities from their land continued to face attack in 2012.

International watchdog group Global Witness in its 2013 report Deadly Environments named Honduras as the second deadliest country in the world for environmentalists. Between 2010 and 2014, 101 activists were murdered in Honduras, the highest rate per capita of any country surveyed in a report by Global Witness, earning it the ‘deadliest place for environmentalists’ title in 2014. Global Witness figures, released following Berta’s killing, show that at least 109 people were killed in Honduras between 2010 and 2015, for taking a stand against destructive dam, mining, logging and agriculture projects.

A protest rally in memory of Berta

A protest rally in memory of Berta

Since the 2009 coup, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive megaprojects that would displace indigenous communities. Almost 30 per cent of the country’s land was earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations. To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatizing rivers, land, and uprooting communities. As far back as 2014, Oliver Courtney, senior campaigner at Global Witness described the rising activist deaths “as a symptom of our global environmental crisis.”

Women are increasingly the targets of these attacks. According to the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, 12 female environmental leaders were killed in Latin America alone by 2014. The issue has garnered increased interest among civil society groups as well as academics with McKinney and Fulkerson (2015) arguing that women and the environment represent twin dimensions of exploitation that suffer from the current capitalist regime and patriarchal structures of domination therein.

Berta Cáceres rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam. They argued that the dam would cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of Lenca people and violate their right to sustainably manage and live off their land. In 2014 Berta told BBC reporters that she had received numerous death threats because of her opposition to a dam that would force her community off their ancestral land. She claimed she has been forced to live a “fugitive existence”

Members of FRIDA community and beyond join the #JusticeforBerta rally in New York City

Members of FRIDA community and beyond join the #JusticeforBerta rally in New York City

In 2015, she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize – a prestigious award recognizing grassroots environmental activists from around the world. Former winners of the prize, in a joint statement issued following her killing, lamented the constant threats with which Berta lived. Former winners of the prize have stated that: “Berta was surrounded by threats and bullets, and at times, cars waiting for her in the road with armed men. But she continued to fight for human rights and the environment–women violated by their partners, children with malnutrition, and of course, the problems many of us worked on with her, unsustainable mining and hydroelectric dams.”

Billy Kyte, a campaigner at Global Witness had lamented in 2015, “In Honduras and across the world, environmental defenders are being shot dead in broad daylight, kidnapped, threatened, or tried as terrorists for standing in the way of so-called ‘development’.” In 2014 Global Witness said it is calling on governments “to monitor, investigate and punish these crimes, and for Honduras to address abuses in the upcoming review of its human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council”.  And despite those calls, Berta was murdered.

Grahame Russell of Rights Action claims that Berta was killed by corporations and investors who conceive of the world – its forests and earth, its natural resources, its rivers, waters and air, its people and all life forms – as exploitable and discardable objects, and then steal, kill and destroy mightily to make their millions and billions. The politics and economics of the situation is rooted firmly in capitalism and patriarchy and as such women and other vulnerable groups will continue to suffer.

In 2014, Cáceres told Thomson Reuters Foundation that “as women we are exposed to violence from businesses, governments and repressive institutions – but also to patriarchal violence. It is three times worse for an indigenous woman. The media criminalises us too. They try to take away our credibility, (they) say we’re armed groups, that we attack private investments, which we don’t exist, we’re from dysfunctional families, we’re bitches and corrupt.” She told Grist that the level of aggression with which she had been met was greater because “We are women who are reclaiming our right to the sovereignty of our bodies and thoughts and political beliefs, to our cultural and spiritual rights — of course the aggression is much greater.”

The Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network posit that indigenous women and women from low-income communities and developing countries bear a heavier burden from the impacts of environmental changes such as climate change because they are more reliant upon natural resources for their survival and/or live in areas that have poor infrastructure, which makes their communities particularly vulnerable. Female activists have argued that they have less support than those working on women’s rights in general, such as sexual and reproductive rights.

'Your steps will be the furrow of our struggles. You won’t die but live on in every act of courage. You will come back as water, and germinate life.'

‘Your steps will be the furrow of our struggles.
You won’t die but live on in every act of courage.
You will come back as water, and germinate life.’

Berta was a mother, a sister, a daughter. She was selfless in her determination to defend the rights of her people and the land that was of significant cultural and spiritual value. Many are calling for an independent investigation through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Beyond that there remains a lot of work to do to stem the tide of attack on activists. Activists are relying on the international community to lobby their governments against supporting projects like that for which Berta was killed.

Jagoda Munic, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) affirm there is no environmental justice without an end to all forms of violence against women and to the exploitation of women’s reproductive and productive work. We cannot remain silent as men and women are killed for trying to protect the air, water and land on which their lives depend. We cannot sit idly by and wait for the next person to take action. We each have a role to play because ultimately ‘we each are the leaders we have been waiting on’.

In 2014 Cáceres voiced her commitment to the process, her commitment to staying and defending the land- “I want to live and enjoy my life but I can’t do it because I feel the responsibility that this is a collective process and collective responsibility”. She paid the ultimate price for her commitment to her people and their land- her life.

Ayesha Constable is one of FRIDA’s advisors from the Latin American and the Caribbean region. Read more about our LAC advisors here.
Click here to read FRIDA’s statement on the assassination of Berta Cáceres and click here to read more statements and calls to action.

Kicking their way inside soccer stadiums!

Open stadiums is a nation-wide campaign which has gained international attention through its very public and legitimate defy of the ban. Semanur Karaman interviewed the faces behind the campaign to understand their aspirations for Iran and expectations from the global feminist movement.

Football is a multi billion-dollar industry which is highly politicized across the globe.  Take into account the recent FIFA presidential vote, which has sparked up a global debate on how sports can be the instrument to access more power for those responsible for grave human rights abuses. Activists from around the globe, and of those from the Bahraini diaspora, joined in a global call to protest Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa’s nomination to presidency at FIFA, and asked for greater accountability and transparency from the organization.

Football in Iran is a matter of politics too, where since 1982 women are  prohibited from attending public sporting events.  For example in October 2014, Ghoncheh Ghavami,  a 25 woman, was arrested when she tried to attend a volleyball game in Tehran. Iranian women, however, were quick to tackle this issue as a part of the pioneering human rights struggle and feminist agenda of Iran. They have been operating undercover to defend the very basic yet fundamental right of women to exist in the public space without hindrance or restrictions.

A woman protests outside The Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran

A woman protests outside The Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran

Open stadiums is a nation-wide campaign which has gained international attention through its very public and legitimate defy of the ban. Semanur Karaman interviewed the faces behind the campaign to understand their aspirations for Iran and expectations from the global feminist movement.

The identity has been kept anonymous for security reasons.

Can you please tell us a bit about your work?

It’s been 10 years since we started our activism supporting women’s participation to public sports events in Iran. When we were teenagers, we were really into sports, especially soccer, basketball and volleyball.

Growing up as young women, we could go to basketball and volleyball events but not to football matches and that made us so angry. The kind of discrimination which takes away a woman’s freedom to exist in the public space just as any man is the essence of our activism in Iran.

We wanted to turn this anger into good use. Therefore, we joined a feminist group and we started to demonstrate in front of the Azadi stadium in Tehran. When we started our activities some people laughed at us, some of which feminist groups, saying “We have so many more problems and you want to go to stadiums to watch some men chasing a ball?” However, going to public sporting events was very important to us because it symbolized our pursuit of reclaiming public spaces for women.

Following two demonstrations some clerics warned that watching men play soccer when some of their body parts are not covered is haram for women in the Spring of 2006. Our 3rd march to the Azadi Stadium meant that we disobeyed their order. Special forces and the female police surrounded us. Having received such a harsh reaction from the government, we understood they were serious about the whole ordeal.

However, we did not give up. We started an online campaign, contacted journalists, and film makers. We also contacted the FIFA and AFC. And you know what? Our campaign became a success! After 2 years of committed advocacy, FIFA and AFC declared they will not include Iran in international football events due to the ban on women’s participation.

During the elections of 2009 where Ahmedi Nejad won for a second term despite alleged election rigging and escalating public protests over his repressive rule, the government arbitrarily arrested many activists. Many members of our passionate, committed group of feminists had to leave the country.

When Rouhani was elected in September 2013 and the Fifa President visited Iran I felt a strong need to resurface our campaign and restart our conversation with the FIFA. Therefore I started @openstadiums in English. A couple of months after our campaign resurfaced the government banned the attendance of women to public volleyball events.

What are challenges you face while supporting the attendance of women to public supporting events?

When women collectively march to public sporting events special forces severely confront us, also extremists and Ayatoallahs. In June 2015 our opponents said if women participate to public sporting events there will be a bloodbath.

A gathering of women outside The Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran

A gathering of women outside The Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran

It is also quite brutally demoralizing when ordinary citizens or intellectuals in Iran were mocking our campaign. People had a hard time taking our demand to attend to public sporting events seriously. However, this is our right. More importantly this is a strict ban on our right to enjoy and participate to public spaces. This is an issue that is very dear to our hearts and we deserve to be taken seriously. One of our great achievements were to turn this issue which was not cared at all by anyone to one deeply discussed from intellectuals to ordinary citizens.

Although there were attempts to undermine our legitimate and strong demands, during the FIVB World Leauge in 2015 the ban on women’s presence in stadiums was a leading topic in Persian social media and news websites.

What are your hopes and aspirations for young women of Iran?

Women in Iran live in a patriarchal society. We are governed by sexist laws and social norms imposed to regulate affairs that should be regulated by our own choices. There is a strong women’s rights movement in Iran composed of women tirelessly working to change or get rid of sexist laws, regulation and social norms. And this change is happening.

We have a long road ahead of us. A lot of fellow feminists, who are our inspiration, had to leave the country. However, women of Iran are very vocal on social issues. They are strong. They know what they want. Good days are ahead of us.

What motivates you? What are some strategies you adopt for your safety and wellbeing?

We want to live in a better world and be a part of the efforts to construct a better world. That process is impossible without women. The will to construct and be part o a better world is our aspiration and motivation.

We all live in constant fear of getting arrested, and this is very difficult. We now know and realize that fear comes from not knowing. So our strategy for safety and wellbeing is studying the situation carefully to be aware of risks and always being cautious. Not slipping even for a second.  Moderating risks and being cautious is essential to keeping up courage.

What are your thoughts on feminism and the larger global feminist movement?

We strongly believe we should connect a lot more.  We need unity among us feminists to topple down unequal power structures.  We are very optimistic about our collective future.

Iranian women protesting for their right to claim public space

Iranian women protesting for their right to claim public space

Our best moments is when we are with feminist friends across the globe, but mostly from the MENA region. Despite the bad blood between our governments, they are so close to my heart. We are all so similar because of all the political and religious extremists in our countries. We take strength knowing we are never alone, and that we are a part of a support system of feminists in the region and across the globe.

How can the international community support your meaningful work?

Please spread the word about our concerns and demands. If you have read this interview tell your friends and families about our campaign and our call to have a life of equality and dignity. Invest time in getting to know struggles that are not your own, familiarize yourself with them, tell your loved ones about how people in other parts of the world live and what their aspirations are.

If you are an international organization hire more women from Iran. Don’t shy away because Iran is not a democracy. Find ways to make us part of your ecosystem. Not only help our advocacy efforts, but concretely contribute to our economic independency as Iran is full of obstacles for women who want to stand on their own two feet.  Don’t just try to help us with support, but be that very support itself politically, socially, economically.

As told to Semanur Karaman, a feminist activist from Turkey, who serves as one of FRIDA’s thematic advisors

All pictures provided by Open Stadiums

Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8 newsletter - featured image

We get one day a year to celebrate, but resisting patriarchy is a 24/7 project. It takes courage, action, and commitment to continue the struggle for justice. Feminism – its a doing word.

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we are highlighting 8 verbs that young feminist activists must perform every day of the year in order to achieve a more just and peaceful world.

Please join us in celebrating their work by sharing on social media one of the actions (or more) that means the most to you in your own activism!

 

1

Hashtag Generation in Sri Lanka is producing a video series of women who are breaking stereotypes. Watch the first video featuring one of the few female tuk tuk drivers in the country. Like their facebook page to catch the premier of the rest of the videos in the series.

3

WEDO and FRIDA’s climate justice fellow, Majandra, explains, “We are increasingly recognizing and exposing that climate change is not about carbon emissions alone, but about an economic and political system that churns out emissions to keep its cogs turning and its growth unabated.” Click here to read her article in the Huffington Post on how young feminists are contributing to the global climate justice movement. The image above says “Neither the earth nor women are territories for conquest” (Source: mal-educadx).

4

Shut Your Sexist Mouth Up from Russia is collating pictures of survivors of violence, giving them a space, where they can choose to be anonymous, to retell their experience. Follow their project on Instagram.

5

Sistah2Sistah in Trinidad and Tobago, is hosting a ‘Sistah Circle’ as a means to create a sacred and safe space for women to gather, build friendships, bond and share. They invite you to join! (Image credit to the artist Michelle Isava).

6

Barbora, a long time friend and supporter, decided to dedicate her birthday to the young feminist movement. Instead of receiving presents, she is crowdfunding gifts to FRIDA and handmaking her own origami thank you cards (as pictured). Click here to support her awesome initiative! And please get in touch if you want to start or share your own creative fundraising campaign.

7

Tiiiit! Inc. in Macedonia, will be chanting, marching and protesting in the streets from March 11-13 to reclaim public space as part of their feminist festival. Click here to read more! (Macedonian only)

8

Catch members of FRIDA community at the 60th Commission for Status of Women at the United Nations headquarters in NYC this year. The above image was clicked at the young feminist caucus at the last CSW while preparing the #whatyouthwant statement. Click here to see the list of events that FRIDA is organizing and participating in this year and join our FB group to stay updated.

10

Our work is globally connected and collective. Staying true to our participatory nature, thirteen young feminist activists from FRIDA’s Staff and Advisory Committee reflect on the current pulse of young feminist organizing and the trends they are seeing in their local contexts. Hot off the press – read their OpEd on Open Democracy!

Thanks to Betty Barkha, Fiji, Sarah Soysa, Sri Lanka, Alina Saba, Nepal, Marinella Matejcic Croatia, Magda Pohec, Poland, Lucía Martelotte, Argentina, Alexandra Martins, María Eugenia Olmos, Argentina, Ana Maria Gonzalez Costa Rica, Ledys San Juan, Colombia, Ariana Silva Brazil, Leticia Alves Maione, Brazil, Ruby Johnson, Australia, and Deepa Ranganathan, India for collaborating on this reflection.

Category: Blog, News · Tags: