Global Roundup: Kenyan Teacher’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, Afrofuturistic Art Show, Indian Women Scientists’ Association, First LGBTQ+ Taiwanese Legislator, All-Women Minnesota City Council
Curated by FG Contributor Inaara Merani
Euphresia Rina Ageyo, a secondary school teacher in Vihiga County spearheading a campaign to against teenage pregnancy, during the interview on November 10, 2023. Photo credit: Kamau Maichuhie I Nation Media Group
After finishing her undergraduate studies and beginning to work as a secondary school teacher in Vihiga, Euphresia Rita Ageyo noticed a growing trend of teenage pregnancy. Vihiga is one of three counties in western Kenya where gender-based violence (GBV) is rampant. Euphresia decided to spearhead a campaign to prevent teenage pregnancy.
Every [so] often, I would receive a girl in the school who was pregnant. I became alarmed and concerned as the cases became rampant. I told myself that something needed to be done to arrest the problem. – Euphresia Rita Ageyo
The history teacher launched a campaign to mentor young adolescent girls in order to break the cycle of young pregnancies in the area and provide more education and support for any pregnant individuals. The initiative provides counselling and extra support in school to pregnant women and mothers. Although the campaign was initially targeted at schools, Euphresia has already provided services to 40 percent of schools in the county. She has since extended the program to public forums and churches.
Euphresia also raises awareness about important issues on local radio stations. She is an advocate for access to justice for all forms of GBV, and connects survivors with legal aid and paralegal services. Though it has not been an easy road advocating for young women’s rights, especially those who are survivors of GBV, she continues to fight for empowerment and justice.
I am elated to note that my efforts have brought in positive results. This year alone, we have seen the conviction of four perpetrators accused of impregnating minors in the area. This has given us more morale to fight for justice. – Euphresia Rita Ageyo
“Self-Centered" by Leeya Jackson. Credit: Mitch Rossow. (Sahan Journal)
Hosted by Artistry Theater and Visual Arts, “Loud Joy” is an exhibition which celebrates Black, queer, and neurodivergent experiences. After opening on January 5, the exhibition will be on display until February 25 at the Atrium Theater in Minneapolis.
With afrofuturistic paintings of herself, artist Leeya Jackson explores her experiences at the intersections of a Black, queer, and neurodivergent woman. She uses a number of mediums such as “painting, printmaking, design/typography, film, and animation to create vibrant, lush, layered, and scattered imagery.”
Jackson was heavily inspired by Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction novels, Frida Kahlo’s exploration of Mexican culture in her self-portraits, artist and activist Faith Ringgold who merged art, feminism and the civil rights movement in her story quilts, as well as Kehinde Wiley’s representation of Black and brown men in his portraiture. Jackson is particularly interested in the complexity and strange beauty of Black neurodivergent girlhood, memory, and the things in the shadows that other people might struggle to see.
As a queer Black woman with ADHD, this exhibition reflects Jackson’s identity and offers insights into the shame and the joy that one experiences at the intersections of race, gender, and neurodivergence.
Photographed by Shahzad Bhiwandiwala. (Vogue India)
Since its inception in 1973 with one location and only 12 members, the Indian Women Scientists’ Association (IWSA) has grown to over 2000 individuals with 11 branches across India. The organization was founded by 12 women scientists who had one goal at the time: to spread science to the masses.
On June 13, 1973, these women came together to create the IWSA in order to share science with everyone, to understand women’s problems in the sciences, and to promote women’s involvement in science and research. After growing exponentially in the last several decades, the IWSA is now celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Although the initial goal of the IWSA was to simply share science with all, the organization came to realize that there is much more to the task then simply giving individuals access to the information. Today, the IWSA headquarters in Vashi, Navi Mumbai is a centre for education and community. The organization hosts lecture series and conducts scholarly research, and also hosts community programs.
My workplace did not recognize the Indian Women Scientists’ Association’s value. People would say, ‘Isn’t it that woman-woman place in Vashi where you all get together to gossip?’ When those same people were invited to our events, their eyes would pop out at the calibre of our work…Science empowers, but society does not walk hand in hand. – Dr. Rita Mukhopadhyaya
Today, women entering scientific professions in India is not as radical. However Dr. RIta Mukhopadhyaya, former head of gene technology at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and former president of the IWSA, believes that the organization’s main responsibility is to make educated and underprivileged women aware of their options apart from marriage and family. Whether women have a degree in a scientific field or simply want to learn more about science, the IWSA offers empowering spaces and programs that are powered by mentorship, friendship, and mutual respect.
FEMINIST GIANT is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
IMAGE: @HUANGJIE_OFFICIAL VIA INSTAGRAM. (GCN)
Thirty-year-old Huang Jie just became the first openly LGBTQ+ legislator elected to Parliament in Taiwan. After receiving 51.01 percent of the votes during the Taiwanese national elections on Saturday, Huang successfully beat out her main opponent, Chen Mei-ya, who served a five-year term with the city.
Prior to her national appointment as a legislator, Huang acted as a representative of the New Power Party (NPP) for the Kaohsiung City Council from 2018 until 2021. After losing her seat in 2021, she was reelected as an independent councillor in 2022. In 2023, Huang joined the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the ruling party of Taiwan, and was nominated as the party representative in Kaohsiung’s 6th District after the former representative, Chao Tian-lin, dropped his bid for reelection after it became public knowledge that he had had an affair with a Chinese woman.
Huang publicly disclosed her sexuality in April 2023 and explained that she chose not to come out during her early political career. However, once she did come out, LGBTQ+ voters told her that she had given them courage in their lives. Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan in 2019, homophobic attacks during Huang’s campaigns made her realize that Taiwan still has room for improvement for LGBTQ+ rights. Huang hopes to continue to promote equality during her political career.
I will continue to safeguard [the wellbeing of] Kaohsiung and work to make it a place that shines internationally. – Huang Jie
Although Huang was successful in becoming the first openly LGBTQ+ legislator in Taiwan, the Democratic Party was unsuccessful in securing a majority in the national elections.
St. Paul, Minnesota made history last week with its newly appointed all-women city council. Anika Bowie, Rebecca Noecker, Saura Jost, Mitra Jalali, Hwa Jeong Kim, Nelsie Yang, and Cheniqua Johnson are all under the age of 40, and they represent a number of diverse communities within St. Paul.
This new body represents the first US city council of this size – around 300,000 people – to have a city council made up entirely of women. Although there are a few small communities in the US which have all-women city councils, the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University noted that only 32 percent of all municipal officeholders are women, and women of colour are further underrepresented.
Each of the newly elected members recognize the significance of this body, as well as the responsibility that will now come with their new leadership positions. Some of the priorities listed by the members include affordable housing, access to childcare, ensuring roads are plowed properly during the winter, and more.
This new class of leader sends a clear message from St. Paul voters, I believe, to the whole world. We trust the leadership of these women. We believe in their personal and professional experiences and vision – philanthropic and policy leaders, executive directors of nonprofits, an engineer, Wow. – Mitra Jalali, council president-designate
Jean Sinzdak, associate director of the Center for Women and Politics, said that it is important that women see themselves in their government because politicians can be role models within society, and ultimately it is these role models which influence and motivate the next generation of diverse leaders to run for office.
The significance cannot be overstated, and how important this moment is for the city and country. It’s hopefully a bellwether for the future. And it really gives us a lot of hope in the goal of achieving a representative democracy. – Jean Sinzdak
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.