Global Roundup: Feminist revolutionaries in Nigeria, LGBTQ victories in US Elections, Disability Inclusion in Fashion

Compiled and written by Lauren MacDonald

Women have been playing a leading role in the ongoing #EndSARS movement against police brutality and government violence in Nigeria. One nascent women’s group in particular, the Feminist Coalition, has used digital platforms to mobilize funds and design strategies to support protesters across Nigeria. Their leadership and effectiveness must be acknowledged and remembered, say authors Chiedo Nwankwor and Elor Nkereuwem. Women’s engagement in political mobilization across Africa is not new but it is too often minimized or erased in the retelling of events.

The #ENDSARS movement is specifically seeking to abolish a federal police unit called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

The Feminist Coalition gained popularity when it took on a central role in the #EndSARS protests just two months later. It raised and managed funds for the movement, established a legal aid service made up of volunteers, and coordinated helplines to align efforts across the country

The work of the Feminist Coalition, like the broader feminist work being done across the continent, must not be pushed under the radar. Their leadership is sure to ignite even more resistance against the patriarchy in women and girls in Nigeria and beyond. 

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Michele Rayner-Goolsby — Photo: Twitter

As of writing, the US Presidential Election is still undecided. But regardless of the fate of the fascist fuck, I have found a glimmer of good news. Michele Rayner-Goolsby has made history by being the first out LGBTQ Black woman elected to Florida’s House of Representatives! On top of that, Rayner-Goolsby is the first openly LGBTQ Black women elected in Florida at ANY level. Her team was composed of women and women of colour. After winning the Democratic primary, she said her win would “represent a new day”. 

Luckily, this isn’t the only notable ‘first’ of this election.

Photo via https://sarahmcbride.com/

Delaware elected the very first openly transgender senator! Sarah McBride, a prominent LGBTQ advocate, easily won her race for a seat in the Delaware state Senate. After the utter despair that has been associated with an election that put on full display division and hatred in the United States, I was glad to read about these trailblazers.

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Before I begin my commentary I just want to state how much I LOVE Shonda Rhimes. I am obsessed with her work, specifically Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. She is an excellent writer, and even more important has given light to so many issues (sexual assault, homophobia, racism, etc.) in her shows and even had prime time television’s first ever bisexual character (Grey’s Anatomy’s Callie Torres). Okay, anyway:

Shona Rhimes is passionate about the representation of women of colour on television. When she was growing up, there was very little representation of women and girls on TV that looked like her.

Getting to see women like that, powerful, interesting, amazing women who were like the women I wanted to be was so important. I just feel like everybody should get to see themselves on television - Shonda Rhimes

Now as Shonda continues to dominate TV, she has become a role model for women and girls and she herself is an excellent example of representation that shows the importance of having women of colour on camera and behind the camera.

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Melissa Blake participating in NYFW 2020

Melissa Blake is challenging exclusionary ableist norms by taking to the stage of New York Fashion Week 2020. When Melissa was a teenager someone told her she would never model because of her disability. Weren’t they ever wrong? Ideas of fashion and disability conflict with each other in our extremely ableist society. Melissa says her participation in NYFW is “a huge win for disability representation in fashion.”

Indeed, seeing disability and fashion come together so beautifully tells us something pretty powerful: Disability inclusion is the ultimate fashion statement and forever on-trend - Melissa Blake

Due to the pandemic, the fashion show was online this year which allowed even more people to view it. Accessibility for disabled people is oftentimes thought of in terms of physical accessibility (ramps, elevators, etc.) but it should apply also to fashion - who is seen in fashion and who is considered the audience for fashion - and every aspect of life.

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A first for the territory’s Congress, Ana Irma Lassén has become the first out LGBTQ elected lawmaker in Puerto Rico. Lassén made her way into the senate via the island’s new party Citizens’ Victory Movement. Along with this historic accomplishment, she is also the first Black woman to have led the Bar association of Puerto Rico. Her feminist work dates all the way back to the 80s where she sued a judge and won, over the judge denying her entry to court for wearing pants instead of a skirt. Her new mission? “Fighting for human rights. Rivera Lassén will continue to do just that, as she always has, only now, she’ll be doing it from inside Puerto Rico’s capital building.” Clearly, Lassén is no stranger to resisting the patriarchy.

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Lauren MacDonald is a third-year student at the University of Ottawa studying International Development and Globalization with a minor in Women's Studies and a settler on traditional Mi'kmaq land. Looking to pursue a career in urban planning/community development, she is interested in gaining as much feminist knowledge as possible in her academics to help build more healthy and equitable communities in the future. She is delighted at the opportunity to shed light on everything feminism around the globe through FEMINIST GIANT!