Global Roundup: Indigenous Women’s Football Team Makes History, LGBTQ+ Afghan Protest, Bringing Midwifery to Indigenous Parents, Young Bolivian Feminist, Stories of Nigerian Queerness
Curated by FG Contributor Samiha Hossain
Photograph: Johana Palacio/Handout via The Guardian
The women’s football team at Club Deportivo Guaraní, a club based in the community of Misión San Francisco in the province of Salta in northern Argentina, will make history by playing in the final of the Copa Salta. They will be the first team from an Indigenous community to reach the final of a major tournament in the province. Reaching the final has been a huge achievement for the team, which formed six years ago. To get there, they have had to overcome sexism, racial slurs, threats and attacks because of their Indigenous background.
Rosa Carema has been playing football since she was five years old. Like many of her teammates, she first discovered the joys of the sport kicking a ball around in the streets with her friends. As she grew up, those around her started to tell her it was a man’s game.
They used to challenge me at home [for playing women’s football], but I just acted like I couldn’t hear it. Now they’re proud of me, and I’m grateful to them. -Rosa Carema
The prejudice directed at the women reflects broader problems with structural poverty, institutional discrimination and a failure to respect Indigenous people’s rights in Argentina. About 6.5% of Salta’s population identifies as Indigenous, and 513 of the country’s 1,790 Indigenous communities live in the province. Poverty rates in the province are among the highest in the country. Sexual violence against Indigenous women and children is widespread in northern Argentina as well.
[Playing football] is a really powerful feeling. I mean, we all like winning, but when we lose and we know we gave it our all, that gives us a sense of satisfaction too. -Dulce Rueda, team captain
There has been rising interest in women’s football among Indigenous groups across Latin America. Women’s football in Argentina still has some way to go to achieve the same status and investment as the men’s game. In Salta, the men’s Cup prize money is 700,000 Argentinian pesos (£4,297): twice as much as the women’s winnings. Women in Salta cannot earn a living from playing football. However, the women at Club Deportivo Guaraní are optimistic about the future and would tell young girls who play football to never give it up.
Ozlam is a trans woman who is leading a protest of LGBTQ+ Afghans. Picture via Pink News
Ozlam is a trans woman from Afghanistan who has sought refuge in Pakistan after the Taliban takeover in August 2021 – now, she is preparing to stage a protest in Pakistan with the support of Roshaniya, an organization set up by human rights campaigner Nemat Sadat with the goal of getting LGBTQ+ Afghans to safety. The protest is believed to be the first ever public demonstration by LGBTQ+ Afghans.
It’s not about me, it’s about the LGBT people in Afghanistan who are facing problems. I’m a human rights defender, I want to raise my voice for them as well. -Ozlam
The demonstration will draw attention to the plight of LGBTQ+ Afghans more broadly, but it will also serve as a damning indictment of the UK government’s approach to asylum seekers. Roshaniya has a list of more than 1,000 LGBTQ+ Afghans who are waiting to be resettled, but Sadat says fewer than 80 have been admitted to the UK so far.
A year after spearheading a campaign to evacuate LGBTQ+ people from Afghanistan after the fall of Kabul, Sadat is disheartened by the failure of so many western governments to help bring LGBTQ+ Afghans to safety. He is most frustrated by the actions of the UK government, which has become known for its increasingly hostile approach to refugees and asylum seekers in recent years. In October 2021, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced that it had brought 29 LGBTQ+ Afghans to safety. Sadat thinks the lack of progress since then shows that it was little more than a PR stunt designed to boost the UK’s reputation.
I’m so proud of Ozlam and the dozens of LGBT+ Afghan activists who will fight for their right to live and chart a new destiny for our people. They are going to march, demonstrate, and protest against the UK failing to save the most vulnerable group in the most dangerous country. - Nemat Sadat
Ozlam wants the world to see people like her as human beings who deserve respect and empathy.
We want to live our lives the way we want. We have our rights – we want to defend our rights. -Ozlam
Alisha Julien Reid, lead consultant and midwife, and Suzanne Brooks, wellness advisor with the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association. (Submitted by Suzanne Brooks) via CBC
With few Mi'kmaw communities able to access midwives, the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association in Canada has been holding public meetings in First Nations across the province to gauge interest in expanding midwifery services.
What Indigenous communities are realizing across the country is that we can't wait for the current system to move forward on their own accord. It's always the people who ask and demand change first. And so we are moving forward with Tajikeimɨk to make these dreams happen. -Alisha Julien Reid, lead consultant on the project
The meetings are a part of a partnership between the association, the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives, and Tajikeimɨk, the Mi'kmaw health authority. They're also looking at ways to decolonize birth and incorporate Mi'kmaw ceremony back into birthing practices. Julien Reid said the meetings have been informative when it comes to better understanding past cultural practices surrounding birth, as well as what families want now.
Midwifery has always been a part of community and ceremonies have always been a part of those births. Indigenous midwifery specifically can service women in a culturally safe way, as well as implement or restore and revitalize the ceremonies that we once had. -Alisha Julien Reid
Some examples of ceremony include delayed cord clamping, having Mi'kmaw songs sung during birth, and having the parents of the baby be the first ones to speak to the child. They have also heard from parents who would have liked to have access to a midwife when giving birth and to several women who are interested in becoming midwives and doulas.
Suzanne Brooks, who is also leading the community meetings, believes the continuity of care provided by a midwife from prenatal to six weeks postpartum builds trust and helps connect vulnerable women and infants to resources. Although still in the early stages of the project, the information gathered by Julien Reid and Brooks will be used to work toward several goals and to apply for various funding sources. The first goal is having midwives available under the Mi'kmaw health authority. The second is to create an Indigenous-led midwifery training program.
Photo: Courtesy of Selina Raldes via UN Women
Selina Raldes Herrera is a young Bolivian feminist and sexual and reproductive rights activist. She is also a medical student and the national coordinator of the National Platform of Adolescents and Youth for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. This organization works in schools in six departments in 16 municipalities in rural Bolivia to empower girls, adolescents, and young women. UN Women interviewed Herrera about the role of young women in constructing peaceful societies.
Herrera believes that young women are the generation “that questions how…intersectionalities…converge in problems that have the same root and that, from [their] differences, could enrich [them].” She says that young women can use digital tools to seek solutions and ensure no one is left behind. According to Herrera, sustainable recovery can only occur when youth of populations that have been historically excluded are included, such as Indigenous and rural communities as well as LGBTIQ+ people.
Although we are all affected by the same issues, we must understand that some will be affected to a greater extent. From our position, we must act to build a present with a culture of peace, where we embrace our differences and can question and deconstruct culturally learned patterns that keep us away from a just society that allows us to live with dignity. -Selina Raldes Herrera
For Herrera, the key to promoting meaningful youth participation is activating spaces from youth for youth. In other words, young people must be invited to participate in decision-making spaces in their communities and their demands and solutions must be taken into account.
It is time that the authorities listen to what affects us, include our solutions in national projects and programs. On the other hand, youth needs to take action stemming from our differences and similarities, building the present and future in equality. When we act together as a region we see impressive changes. -Selina Raldes Herrera
Herrera also acknowledges the importance of intergenerational solidarity. She says she would not have started her journey if an adult had not shared her story, which inspired Herrera to take action.
Just as we were one day inspired by our grandmother, mother, sister, or another adult figure, we as young activists are also inspiring more girls, teens, and young women to join the fight and build a sustainable world. -Selina Raldes Herrera
Arinze Ifeakandu discusses with i-D his critically-acclaimed debut short story collection “God’s Children Are Little Broken Things.” The 27-year-old queer Nigerian writer is a master observer, immortalizing the complex situations where queerness and Nigerian existence intersect.
Across nine vignettes, distinct in isolation but interconnected by their overarching themes, Arinze chronicles the lives, struggles, joys and triumphs of a complicated existence. The stories are primarily focused on men navigating loss, class, homophobia, poverty and figuring out love.
Arinze’s writing voice is inspired by other writers including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chinua Achebe for “Arrow of God,” “Things Fall Apart,” Buchi Emecheta for the “Joys Of Motherhood” and Garth Greenwell for “What Belongs To You.”Arinze says though the stories are grounded in reality, there is also a lot of imagination that happens.
It was mostly just daydreaming. I'm just imagining a situation between two boys. I'm imagining what an ideal kind of love would be, what it means for someone to care about someone else. And also, because I've seen care in real life, I believe it. So I can let my imagination go as wide as it can. -Arinze Ifeakandu
The book creates a contrast between innocence and adulthood and how growing older shapes the character’s understanding of queerness in Nigeria. Arinze says he used to experiment with boys as a child and there was no shame tied to it. But when he went to boarding school, his femininity became a problem for the first time – which he views as a loss of innocence.
Ultimately, Arinze wants his book to be “really wonderful company” for readers and for it to be something that helps people feel seen.
Samiha Hossain (she/her) is a student at the University of Ottawa. She has experience working with survivors of sexual violence in her community, as well as conducting research on gender-based violence. A lot of her time is spent learning about and critically engaging with intersectional feminism, transformative justice and disability justice.
Samiha firmly believes in the power of connecting with people and listening to their stories to create solidarity and heal as a community. She refuses to let anyone thwart her imagination when it comes to envisioning a radically different future full of care webs, nurturance and collective liberation.