Global Roundup: Brazilian Indigenous Women’s March, Iranian Activist Jailed, Mexican Women Presidential Candidates, California Trans History Month, Sustainable Business for Nepalese Women
Curated by FG Contributor Inaara Merani
From Monday until September 13, Indigenous women from all across Brazil have gathered in Brasília to advocate for women’s rights and preserve indigenous cultures, marching for equal rights and demanding land demarcation for indigenous peoples, as well as an end to illegal mining on indigenous lands. Marked as the third official Indigenous Women’s March, the focus of this protest was “Women Biomes in Defense of Biodiversity Through Ancestral Roots”.
At the heart of this march is a powerful call for equal rights for indigenous women. These women have faced countless challenges and injustices throughout their lives, but they refuse to stay silenced. We demand access to quality health care, education, and economic opportunities. We fight for the protection of land and natural resources, which have been exploited for far too long. We advocate an end to violence against indigenous women—a widespread problem that has plagued our communities for generations. – National Articulation of Indigenous Women Warriors of Ancestry (Anmiga)
In addition to protesting for indigenous women’s rights, and demanding land demarcation and an end to illegal mining, the event also calls for more indigenous representation in spaces of power. At the Third March of Indigenous Women, a fashion event also took place in which the work of Brazilian Indigenous designers and models were showcased.
Bill 490/2007, approved by the Brazilian Chamber of Duties in May of this year, prevents Indigenous communities in Brazil from obtaining title of their lands if they were not physically present on October 5, 1988, when Brazil’s new Constitution was adopted. Any individuals who were expelled from Brazil before October 1988 and cannot prove that they were in an ongoing land dispute at the time will likely be forced to forfeit their lands as they will not be able to secure legal recognition of their lands.
Just a few months ago, the majority of Brazil’s congress voted to restrict Indigenous land advances. Although their efforts are strong, so is the strength and resilience of Indigenous women across Brazil.
Atefeh Rangriz, a well-known author and women’s rights activist in Iran, had been detained several times in the past
Atefeh Rangriz, the well-known writer and women’s rights activist in Iran has been arrested, as the Iranian government conducts an intense crackdown on civil society. She last spoke with her family on September 10 on a brief phone call from Semnan prison, 200 kilometres from Tehran, but did not provide any information about the charges against her or the circumstances of her arrest.
In the past, Rangriz has been detained multiple times for her activism, her most recent incident with law enforcement was in May 2019. She was sentenced to 11 years and six months in prison but was pardoned the following year.
Fearing a flare-up in protests ahead of the September 16 anniversary of the murder of Mahsa Amini in police custody, Iranian authorities have ramped up their campaign on activists in recent months. Last month, 12 women’s rights activists were arrested in the northern province of Gilan. The detainees were allegedly subjected to physical abuse and were denied basic rights while they were held in detention.
Everyone continues to await news about Rangriz’s arrest, as well as her safety and rights while she is held in detention. At the same time, Bahareh Hedayat, an Iranian human rights activist, was admitted to the hospital on September 10 after being on a hunger strike for nearly two weeks. Hedayat was protesting the death of Javad Rouhi, a man who was detained during recent nationwide protests and died under suspicious circumstances while in prison. She is serving a four-year and eight-month sentence for participating in protests after Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian flight over Tehran in January 2020, which killed everyone on board.
Mexican senator of the National Action Party (PAN) Xochitl Galvez gestures as she arrives for her nomination as the opposition Broad Front for Mexico 2024 presidential candidate, in Mexico City, Mexico September 3, 2023. REUTERS/Henry Romero
For the first time in Mexico’s history, two women will compete for the president in the 2024 election. Claudia Sheinbaum and Xochitl Gálvez’s campaigns represent the culmination of a rapid process of women’s inclusion in politics since 2000. When the presidential candidates entered politics around 20 years ago, more than four out of every five senators were men; today, the majority of senators are women.
Confirmation that both leading candidates for the June 2 election next year will be women came just days after the Mexican Supreme Court’s announcement to strike down a federal law which criminalizes abortion, marking a huge step forward for women’s rights in the patriarchal country. In Mexico, women make up 52 percent of the population, and many are hopeful that the new government that takes office in 2024 will empower them like never before.
Just imagine having a female president in a country as macho as Mexico! – Maria del Carmen Garcia, 70, secretary
Sheinbaum is a trained scientist and a member of Mexico’s major left-wing political party, Morena. Sheinbaum served as a student leader in the 1980s and later served as Mexico City mayor from 2018 until earlier this year when she stepped down to run for president. She is also a close ally of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Senator Gálvez, on the other hand, has indigenous roots and is a trained computer engineer. She is a member of the National Action Party, a conservative political party in Mexico, but despite her affiliation, she has been known to be favourable among young and working-class individuals.
Almost half of the countries in continental Latin America, including Brazil, have elected women as heads of government; currently, only Honduras and Peru have women presidents. Globally, Mexico has the fourth-highest level of women included in the national parliament, well ahead of Brazil, the UK, and the US. If either Sheinbaum or Gálvez are successful in their campaigns, they will become the first woman ever to win a general election in Mexico, Canada, or the US.
Former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum reacts after she was nominated as a presidential candidate, in Mexico City, Mexico September 6, 2023. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo
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Last week, California’s State Assembly voted in favour of House Resolution 57, officially establishing August as Transgender History Month. Beginning in 2024, the state will be the first in the US to honour trans history with this designation.
Trans history in California spans generations. It began with Spanish colonizers suppressing gender variance among indigenous peoples, which the resolution names a foundational event of the state's history. Among many other events, the legislation also mentions Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, the precursor event to Stonewall, Lou Sullivan’s activism, and the establishment of the Transgender District in San Francisco in 2017.
California has long been the epicenter of the trans liberation movement. Supporting the transgender community by designating August as Transgender History Month will create a culture led by research, education, and scholarly recognition of the contributions of transgender Californians to our great state’s history, and will educate future generations of Californians on the importance of this history. – House Resolution 57
During the press conference to announce the passing of the Resolution on Wednesday last week, California State Democrats and members of the trans community discussed the importance of this new celebration and existing challenges. Despite the protections in place and the deep-rooted history of the trans community in California, the state is still plagued by transphobia. This Resolution will combat misinformation about the trans community and will create an opportunity to educate people truthfully.
San Francisco was the first city to recognize Transgender History Month in 2021 and now the entire state of California is following and implementing a similar initiative in a show of support for the trans community. Although the declarations of this celebration are largely symbolic, they are deeply meaningful at a time when LGBTQ+ rights are under attack and painted as “dangerous” to students across the United States.
As long as there has been a California, there have been transgender people here. Contributing to their community, making history, and expanding civil rights, and helping to build a California that is more inclusive and prosperous for everyone. – Matt Haney, Assemblymaker representing San Francisco
Kamala Shrestha along with Mana Maya Shrestha, Sita Tamang, Samjhana Shrestha and Bina Kumari Shrestha work as they feed and collect Black Soldier Fly larvae at a farm in Bhardev village on the outskirts of Lalitpur, Nepal August 11, 2023. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar.
In a small village just over an hour’s drive from Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu, a group of women are supporting themselves and the local economy through sustainable endeavours. A group of six women process fly larvae, as the eggs are extremely protein-rich; these are dried and processed into feed for fish, chicken, and pigs, and it sells for around 70 rupees per kilogram.
This endeavour began in March after a $110,000 grant was given to the fly farm by the Women’s Bank in Finland, operated through the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal. The business is owned and operated by women, and all are members of a “Sisters Group” in Bhardev, Nepal where women can support and listen to one another.
In Nepal, the economic condition of women is vulnerable, especially women living in extremely rural villages. There is typically no extra income or employment in these small villages, other than to work on tiny family farms. The average salary of civil servants is barely around $300 per month; the fly farming business offers village women a big step forward to advance their careers and their financial status.
The women expect to harvest 3500 kilograms of larvae in one production cycle, which can range between 45 to 60 days. They are also currently experimenting with harvesting the larvae in extreme cold and adverse climate conditions. Using a green business model, the organization strives to provide women with additional income without requiring them to invest all their time. This environmentally friendly initiative has had great results thus far. With lots of customers already, the company is hoping to expand into more southern Nepalese cities in the future, where the climate is more favourable.
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.