Global Roundup: Nigerian Woman Develops Cancer-Detecting Bra, Lesbian South Korean Woman Gives Birth, 1st Trans Woman in International Cricket, Bollywood’s Women Workers’ Union, Queers Beyond Borders
Curated by FG Contributor Inaara Merani
The Smart Bra prototype, which uses ultrasound to detect possible tumours in 30 minutes. Results are sent to a phone and can be transmitted to a doctor. Photo via The Guardian.
Kemisola Bolarinwa, a robotics entrepreneur from Nigeria, has created a bra that can detect cancer. She is the founder of Nextwear Technology, located in the capital city of Abuja, which will soon launch the first trial of a wearable, battery-operating device to detect breast cancer.
Known as “the Smart Bra”, this device was created by Bolarinwa in 2019 after her aunt died of breast cancer. An oncologist had told Bolarinwa that if the cancer was detected earlier, her aunt might have survived. The prototype uses ultrasound to detect possible tumours in just 30 minutes. The bra is set to undergo a large-scale trial in Nigeria this year. It will allow women to wear the device at home and simply get the results through the app on their phone. The device will also transmit the results to a doctor if follow-up treatment is needed.
When I ventured into wearable technology in 2019, the first thing I had in mind was to develop a device that could detect breast cancer in its early stage…I strongly believe that this device would be a revolutionary approach to the prevention of breast cancer globally, not only in Nigeria, because of the technology my team and I are bringing in. The aim is to reduce the number of women dying from breast cancer by 80%, in line with the 2030 sustainable development agenda, using our wearable device. – Kemisola Bolarinwa
Bolarinwa is also the president of Women in ICT, a non-profit organization which is trying to increase women’s representation in tech industries. She wants her work to inspire younger women who are interested in STEM. Bolarinwa would eventually like to see the product be put up for sale and also made available for free to individuals who cannot afford to buy one.
Kim Kyu-jin and her wife, Kim Sae-yeon, pose for a photoshoot at their home. (ConnectU). Photo via The Korea Herald.
Two weeks ago, Kim Kyu-jin became the first openly gay South Korean woman to give birth. She married Kim Sae-yeon in 2019 in New York, and the couple is now celebrating the birth of their baby.
In South Korea, fertility treatment for non-heterosexual couples and single women is illegal; their domestic options were limited to sperm banks, which usually prioritize heterosexual married couples with fertility issues. At the time, Kim was working in France and wanted to get IVF treatment done in France as it had just been legalized for lesbian and single women; however, due to a sperm shortage, she was told she would need to wait one and a half years. The couple eventually found success in Belgium.
There are so many types of parents in Korea who are marginalized from the majority. Not just lesbians, but low-income parents, parents with physical disabilities, multicultural families, divorced families and single parents. Should we all be banned from raising children? Discrimination against specific groups makes a society discriminatory as a whole. – Kim Kyu-jin
Although the birth of their baby is a historic and beautiful thing, it comes with many challenges as a same-sex couple in Korea. Kim Sae-yeon, her spouse, will have no legal parental rights to her child, she will be ineligible for parental leave, and she cannot serve as her child’s legal guardian in any cases like medical emergencies. Her only option would be to legally adopt their child, which rarely happens due to the reluctance to allow unmarried people to adopt children.
In South Korea, a bill proposed to recognize same-sex marriage remains in deadlock, and ther eare no signs of resolution anytime soon. This means that the couple, although legally married in New York, has no spousal rights together in South Korea. Despite the odds that are stacked against them, Kim and her wife are hopeful for the future of Korea. They have given themselves an 8-year timeline for when their daughter will begin elementary school, which will be the child’s first true experience within Korean society. They will decide then what is best for their family’s future and safety.
Photo via BBC.
A Canadian women’s cricket player is set to become the first trans woman to ever compete in an international cricket match. Danielle McGahey has been named by Canada as part of the country’s international team as they prepare to qualify for next year’s Women’s T20 World Cup, taking place in Bangladesh. Canada faces Argentina, Brazil, and the US in the ICC Americas Qualifiers in LA next week, where each country is competing for a spot on the global stage.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has not outright banned trans women from competing at an elite level. Instead, the organization requires athletes to demonstrate a testosterone level of less than 5 nmol/L1 for at least 12 months and for as long as the athlete wishes to compete in international cricket competitions. Trans players must also provide the ICC with a written and signed declaration that the player identifies as a woman. For McGahey, this has meant blood tests every month for over two years, and keeping track of her progress in the game.
The need to do blood tests every month is probably the biggest challenge because when you are playing cricket, you are travelling a lot. It’s very personal in terms of the information you are giving over: all your medical information, history of puberty, any surgeries. There’s a lot in it. But the protocols are there and it has been used as intended. – Danielle McGahey
McGahey is a native Australian who moved to Canada in February 2020 and has spoken publicly about her pride in representing her adoptive country on the international cricketing stage. She joins Quinn, Canada’s trans, non-binary football player who competed in this year’s Women’s World Cup.
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Fowzia Fathima, an Indian cinematographer, director and founding member of the Indian Women Cinematographer Collective, speaks out for equality for women. Photo: Wikipedia/SCMP.
Behind the scenes of big Bollywood movies are thousands of individuals who work tirelessly to support the productions. This industry is dominated by men, with estimates that say men out-number women in Bollywood film crews by five to two. Women workers who are tired of being sidelined are banding together to ensure their voices are heard on and off set with the help of Women in Film and Television, India, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Women workers in Bollywood do not have access to women’s-only restrooms, there is a lack of childcare facilities, they receive lower pay, and they are often scheduled on late-night shifts with no thought given to their personal safety and how they are at risk travelling alone at night. All of these issues, and more, have been brought forward to trade unions but they have failed to resolve the problems and adequately support these women.
Petrina D’Rozaria, film producer and founder and president of Women in Film and Television, India says that these conditions and lack of equal rights within the workplace led her and many other women to form their own groups, outside the traditional trade union framework, to lobby on issues related to working conditions and gender-related inequalities. Although her organization does not have the bargaining power of a traditional union, it provides forums for women to find work, seek advice on workplace sexual harassment, and share professional tips and industry news. Connecting with other women within the film industry has also led to women getting scholarships, internships, and networking opportunities.
It’s a safe space to discuss specific concerns which practising women face. That is going to be needed until many things get discussed in the open. – Fowzia Fathima, cinematographer and founding member of the Indian Women Cinematographers’ Collective
Queers Beyond Borders is a new initiative helping queer migrants find the support they need. (Getty Images). Photo via Pink News.
On September 1, UK-based nonprofits The Love Tank and MPact Global kicked off phase one of their new initiative to help queer migrants navigate government systems across Europe without fear of discrimination. The new project, Queers Beyond Borders, provides online resources where migrants can find important and relevant information and support on immigration processes, healthcare systems, and finding LGBTQ+-friendly communities across Europe.
…what we want to do was to highlight that migrants and queer migrants bring assets and resources and cultures and experiences, food and music, and all of those other beautiful things, into our cities that make our queer culture more vibrant and more brilliant and more enriched. So we are really unapologetic about saying that, not least because most of us have people who are incredibly dear to us, and enrich our lives, who were not born in the UK. – Dr Will Nutland
During the initial phase, the project will focus on six cities: Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, London, Madrid, and Paris. Queers Beyond Borders has announced that it will introduce cities from Eastern Europe in the coming phases, such as Warsaw, which the director of The Love Tank, Dr Will Nutland, said has become a priority since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A number of migrants have also asked the organizations to extend their support beyond Europe, asking for assistance in cities in North America.
As we see a rise in anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT movements, Queers Beyond Borders could not be more timely and more needed. This initiative fosters community and celebrates the humanity and rich contributions of queer migrant communities across Europe. – Alex Garner, MPact Global community engagement director
Currently on the website, there is information available about mental health support, social groups, legal and housing advice, as well as essentials’ checklists for each city. The members of the initiative, who are predominantly queer migrants, say there is more to come as the project continues to be rolled out. The hope for those involved is that the project will become an “iterative” community where queer migrants can find the information that they need, and also see the positive impacts of migration.
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.