The January 21st Women’s March, joined by millions of people in the United States and around the world, protested against the new president whose ideology and sexist statements deeply marked the presidential election campaign. This unprecedented march – never before had so many people demonstrated together in the U.S. – however, did not prevent the passing of an executive order cutting off funding for NGOs that include abortion as part of their family planning counseling services two days later.
In many countries, women’s rights have been attacked during the last few years by populist, reactionary and religious movements. In Russia, marital violence is no longer considered a criminal offence. In Turkey, the Islamist party in power proposed a bill by which men accused of sexual assault on a minor could avoid prosecution by marrying their victim. In Ireland, a 19-year old woman was sentenced to three months in prison for having taken a “morning after” pill. Abortion is still illegal in Chile, even in the case of a rape or if it endangers the life of the woman or the fœtus.
The reaction in the face of the attacks and discrimination and set-backs on all continents has been to increase mobilisation in 2016, sometimes in most unexpected ways: abandonment of post in Iceland; creation of a fund in The Netherlands to offset the loss of funding for NGOs proposing abortion procedures following the American decree; a law against domestic violence following pressure from civil society organisations in Pakistan; campaigns that went viral and a protest march in India to fight for the place of Indian women in public areas; defeat of a draft law banning abortion in Poland, etc. In The Hague, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its very first sentence for crimes of sexual violence against Jean-Pierre Bemba. This warlord had his troops systematically use sexual violence in DRC and CAR. Lastly, the demonstrations against feminicide in Latin America startled everyone by their unprecedented scale. In Argentina, in Chile, in Mexico, in Peru and in Uruguay, thousands of women chanted “Ni Una Menos” (“Not One Less”), following the rape and murder of a 16 year-old high school girl.
By presenting this video today, FIDH, which is composed of 184 organisations across the world that are fighting for women’s rights, wishes to pay tribute to this type of mobilisation. This video was made, free of charge, by the Agence Babel, with the captivating background music of John Hiatt’s Stood up, interpreted by Angélique Kidjo for FIDH. It shows activists from Afghanistan, Colombia, Nigeria or yet again The Philippines which prove that when women’s rights are attacked and threatened, as they are today, there is no time for complacency. It’s time for action! Fighting back for women’s rights!