Global Roundup: Art for Iran's Revolution, Qatar Fund for Women, Uganda’s First Woman Pro-Cyclist, First US Sanctuary State for Trans Youth, Iceland LGBTQ+ Action Plan,
Curated by FG Contributor Inaara Merani
Jalz’s campaigning image, which combines an image of the Azadi (Freedom) tower with Matisse’s dancers and the ‘women, life, freedom’ protest slogan. Photograph: Jalz via The Guardian
As the protests in Iran continue, Iranian artists are using their art to support the uprising and express their emotions during this momentous time. Their artwork calls for women’s rights and equality for all.
Using existing symbols of protest and freedom, these artists have carefully crafted artwork that is designed to bring awareness to what is happening in Iran and to reinforce the idea that women’s power cannot be taken away.
The protests across Iran followed the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman, who died in hospital on 16 September after being in the custody of Iran’s so-called “morality police” for flouting the country’s misogynistic dress laws. Since then, the protests have spread across Iran, calling for women’s rights and, increasingly, the end of the regime. In tandem with the protests on the ground, photographs and videos have flooded the internet, with the hashtag of Mahsa’s name in Persian becoming one of the most used in Twitter’s history.
Sahar Ghorishi draws attention to the centrality of women to the movement. Photograph: Sahar Ghorishi. Photo via the Guardian
Many of the art pieces focus on themes of freedom and solidarity, and include the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” which comes from the Kurdish movement for women’s rights and self-determination.
Others have illustrated the movement of fearless women cutting their hair off and burning their headscarves in mourning and in solidarity.
Mahdieh Farhadkiaei’s playing card design. Photograph: Mahdieh Farhadkiaei. Photo via the Guardian
As the movement continues to build and grow, the world needs to continue to show support for women in Iran, as well as other gendered minorities who are at risk for violence, due to misogynistic and homophobic standards. The aforementioned artwork has inspired countless individuals around the world, and it will continue to do so as many become increasingly aware of what is taking place in Iran.
Members of an Afghan all-girls robotics team pictured in Doha, Qatar on August 25, 2021 [File: Alexander Cornwell/Reuters]. Photo via Al Jazeera.
A new initiative in Qatar, Women in Conflict Zones (WICZ), was established to empower women and girls in conflict-affected areas through humanitarian aid and developmental assistance. This new program was created by the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
WICZ will focus on six major areas that will address the inequalities that women encounter in conflict-stricken areas: crisis response, education, healthcare, economic opportunity, technology, and peacebuilding. The organizations behind this new fund are hopeful that this program will enable women and girls with high-quality education and skills to be able to protect themselves and take part in peacekeeping and mediation, stepping into leadership roles.
The initiative aims to overcome the negative results that arise with crises – whether it be the lack of education, healthcare and basic skills that enable women to reach their full potential. It also offers a platform to highlight prominent issues such as marginalization, poverty, and the inevitable outcomes of armed conflicts. – Lolwah Alkhater, Qatar’s assistant foreign minister
One of the programmes included in WICZ creates educational opportunities and vocational training for girls in Afghanistan. As the project develops, more context-specific learning and training opportunities for women living in conflict-affected areas will be implemented. Women remain a vital aspect of all development and peacemaking processes. The continuous involvement of women is an essential aspect of sustainable and equitable development. WICZ creates opportunities for women to learn and grow, and to support their communities.
Photo via The Guardian.
Florence Nakaggwa is Uganda’s first woman pro-cyclist, breaking preconceived notions of cycling and traditionally male-dominated career fields. Training in Masaka, a town south of the capital city Kampala, Nakaggwa is training for a number of races and one day aspires to take part in the Tour de France.
Nakaggwa rides around 50-100 kilometers per day, despite poor weather conditions during the rainy season in Uganda. Earlier this year, she became the first woman in Uganda to receive a professional cycling contract. Signing with Team Amani, a racing collective pushing for inclusivity in cycling in East Africa, Nakaggwa receives a small monthly income, equipment, clothing, and representation at races around the world.
Growing up, Nakaggwa would receive hateful comments from neighbours and others in her village, who insisted that cycling was a men’s sport, urging her not to pursue a career in cycling. However, with the support of her father, as well as her dedication to the sport, Nakaggwa is on her way to changing the cycling world in Uganda. As the first woman to join the Masaka Cycling Club, Nakaggwa has demonstrated that cycling has no gender, and women can have unconventional careers that fuel their passions. With her support to the club, the Masaka Cycling Club now supports 10 girls and 15 boys who are interested in cycling.
I am grateful he works me hard enough. When you sit on a bike you are not a boy or a girl, you are just a being – and I need to keep up with everyone in the race no matter who they are. – Florence Nakaggwa
As she continues to race in competitions throughout Africa and around the world, Nakaggwa will demonstrate the strength of women in the face of sexism and discrimination, as well as her own strength and dedication to a sport which she loves.
Photo via Getty/Pink News.
California has officially become the first sanctuary state for trans youth in the US. The state will offer refuge and resources for trans youth, and the families of trans youth, who have experienced various forms of discrimination.
On Thursday last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 107 into law, which blocks states with anti-trans laws from prosecuting families who desire gender-affirming care. Under this new law, any out-of-state laws that interfere with an individual’s right to gender-affirming care will not be honoured or recognized; California state courts will be granted emergency jurisdiction over child custody cases where trans youth and their families are fleeing laws or investigations.
While other states attack transgender youth and their families, CA affirms them. SB 107 will help ensure that trans youth who seek necessary care & an authentic life in CA are protected in that endeavor. – Equality California representatives
Several states throughout the US have implemented laws that target trans youth, such as Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Arizona. These states have sought to have gender-affirming care, puberty blockers, and mental health counselling outlawed, and to prosecute parents and any providers who seek or offer any treatment relating to gender reassignment.
Although this new set of protections will support the livelihoods and the safety of trans youth and their families, there is no guarantee of the future that these individuals have in the state. California is one of the most expensive states in the US, and healthcare is already inaccessible for many low-income individuals.
Photo via Reykjavik Grapevine.
Iceland recently published its new action plan on LGBTQ+ issues, spanning from 2022 to 2025. The publication outlines a number of issues that the queer community faces, and the steps that the Icelandic government will be taking to rectify these issues. The government has vowed to end discrimination against queer blood donors, train police in LGBTQ+ issues, and provide appropriate and unbiased healthcare for trans people.
During this time period, the country’s parliament will also pledge 40 million Króna to support government ministries in Iceland that are implementing projects and initiatives to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Included in this new action plan in June were 21 progressive measures, all of which tackle discriminatory issues that queer people currently encounter. One of the key changes is to abolish the blanket ban on queer men donating blood, something that the Icelandic Ministry of Health has been considering since 2018.
The purpose of the action should be to abolish the discrimination which blood donors have been subject to on account of their sexual orientation, – Excerpt from Iceland’s new LGBTQ+ Action Plan
In addition to the numerous tangible outcomes this action plan has laid out, there has also been a heavy emphasis on the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth, elderly people, people living with a disability, as well as survivors of targeted domestic violence.
Iceland continues to remain a pioneer in the fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. The nation has demonstrated its commitment to supporting the community, both through domestic measures and foreign policy, at a time when many far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ movements have spread throughout Europe.
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Inaara Merani (she/her) recently completed her Masters degree at the University of Western Ontario, studying Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies with a specialization in Transitional Justice. In the upcoming years, she hopes to attend law school, focusing her career in human rights law.
Inaara is deeply passionate about dismantling patriarchal institutions to ensure women and other marginalized populations have safe and equal access to their rights. She believes in the power of knowledge and learning from others, and hopes to continue to learn from others throughout her career.