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Global Roundup: Pakistan Aurat March, Remembering First Trans MP, Europe Women Activists, Black Trans Women Activist, India Women's Cricket League
Curated by FG Contributor Samiha Hossain
Activists take part in a rally to mark International Women's Day in Lahore. [KM Chaudary/AP Photo]
Tens of thousands of women in Pakistan have rallied in major cities across the country as part of the sixth Aurat March (Women’s March) to mark International Women’s Day. The Aurat March, held since 2018, has attracted backlash due to its provocative slogans, banners and placards challenging patriarchy and highlighting issues facing women, such as divorce and sexual harassment.
As cis women and members of the trans community marched in Islamabad, trying to cross a police blockade, they were charged by the police. Several members of the trans community were injured. Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, one of the organisers in Islamabad, called the state “anti-women,” adding that what the participants faced was nothing new.
We have been saying this for decades now. Be it the time of previous dictators or today. Nothing has changed. We speak of socialist feminism. We speak of democracy. We speak of anti-enforced disappearances. We speak of equality and access to public spaces for women. These are the reasons why the state will always have a problem with us. - Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir
Maryam Fatima, a lawyer based in Islamabad, was carrying a banner with a caption in Urdu that read, “My shirt is colourful, but don’t think of it as my consent.” Fatima, said she has attended all previous marches and, for her, the event is a place where she can express her opinion about her personal experiences. However, she feels that things are not necessarily improving or getting better for women. Another participant, Khushbakht Sohail, said in her experience, while the Aurat Marches have given people a platform to come out and raise their voice, the state’s response has only become harsher.
We saw, even today, how the police inflicted violence upon us, yet we are going to stand our ground. -Khushbakht Sohail
The Aurat March organisers in various cities presented their charter of demands, including an end to patriarchal violence, increased representation of women while making decisions on climate-related matters, providing safe access to women for economic opportunities, and others. Momal Malik, who was attending the march with her friends, said that the Aurat March and International Women’s Day, for her, is a reminder that change is possible.
Powerful women have always been resisted everywhere, not just Pakistan. -Momal Malik
Photograph: Mark TANTRUM/New Zealand Herald
Georgina Beyer, sex worker, survivor, Māori TV star and world’s first transgender MP, died at age 65 earlier this week. She is remembered in New Zealand for her courage, sharp, ribald humour and fierce advocacy of the communities she represented.
Beyer entered parliament in 2005. Having served her community as mayor for five years, she won over constituents with a straight-talking, upfront style and a constant presence at community events. In parliament, she became a force on behalf of the rainbow community, helping push forward progressive law reform on sex work and civil unions, often despite fierce opposition.
When New Zealand sought to legalise civil unions between same-sex couples, conservative religious groups organised a mass “enough is enough” march to oppose the legislation. Beyer was on parliament steps to meet the chanting crowd. “I’m happy to stare you in the eye,” she said. “Why do you hate people like us?”
Beyer’s speech on sex work was credited with tipping the balance in favour of the prostitution reform bill, which passed by a narrow one-vote margin in 2003. The laws decriminalised sex work in New Zealand, aiming to create a safer environment in which sex workers could take exploitative employers to employment court, not gain a criminal record, and access support if they experienced violence. She spoke candidly about entering the sex industry as a young teenager, and being sexually assaulted.
New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective grieved her passing, saying the collective “cannot put into words how deeply we mourn the passing of Georgina Beyer – an extraordinary woman who served her communities fearlessly.”
From left to right: Zanna Vanrenterghem, Anastasiia Yeva Domani, Taya Gerasimova and Marta Lempart. via euronews
Marta Lempart is the founder of the All-Poland Women's Strike, and one of the thousands of activists in Poland trying to make reproductive healthcare more accessible. Poland is often ranked among the hardest places to get a legal abortion in the European Union. But Lempart argued that because of the work done by her and other activists, there is still hope in Poland. When she started her work in 2016, support for legalising abortions stood at around 37%. But that figure has since grown to 70%, polls suggest.
We have this [underground] system, a system that has always been there. But it's not even underground anymore. It is a fully working system that provides women with reproductive care […] After the protests in 2020, everybody knows the number for Abortions Without Borders. It became like a national sport to put its number everywhere. -Marta Lempart
When the war in Ukraine started, Anastasiia Yeva Domani’s apartment became a humanitarian hub for the country’s trans community. Many members of the trans community have gender markers on their documentation that do not match their actual genders. This can cause problems for trans women trying to flee Ukraine because of a ban on military-aged men leaving the country. And it can also create challenges when it comes to mobilisation orders to join the army. Domani’s organisation, Cohort, is helping these women get legal support to remove their names from Ukraine’s military registration or to obtain the right documents to move abroad. Domani is also helping to train the next generation of trans activists in public speaking, advocacy fundamentals and legal support.
Zanna Vanrenterghem is a project leader at Greenpeace Belgium – a group that is trying to move the country away from fossil fuels. In the past 40 years, more than 138,000 people are thought to have died because of climate-related extreme natural events in Europe. Vanrenterghem stresses that it is important to have an intersectional approach to climate activism.
Our economic system is built on structural inequality, inequality between men and women, inequality between richer classes and poorer classes. And that structural inequality is something that we need to dismantle because as long as that is part of the system, there's no way that we can get everyone aligned to tackle [climate change]. -Zanna Vanrenterghem
Taya Gerasimova is one of the members of Women’s March Ukraine, a group that regularly organised women’s rights marches before the full-scale invasion. Once the war started, it quickly transformed into a humanitarian hub, responding to over 35,000 requests for aid, creating three new shelters and helping some 7,000 people find housing abroad. But while Gerasimova described women as “the most vulnerable group in Ukraine” – especially if they are taking care of a lot of children, the elderly or people with disabilities – she added that she has also witnessed a positive shift in sexist attitudes over the past year.
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*Photo credit: Irvin Rivera (@graphicsmetropolis)
Named after the activist and prominent figure within the 1969 Stonewall uprising, MPJI “protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people.” Through organizing, advocacy, community development, and transformative leadership, MPJI has been utilizing their efforts to uplift, protect, and provide healing for Black trans people since 2015.
Whether it is through her work at MPJI or recounting her own story growing up as a Black trans woman in the Midwest in her short film Black Beauty, Moxley is ensuring that this world is a place for Black trans people to not just exist, but to flourish. INTO spoke with Moxely about her activism work, her vision and hopes for her organization, and how others can support the work of MPJI.
MPJI came to be from Moxley’s own experience having to always advocate for herself from a young age. She wanted to create a space so others would not have to go through what she did – which was a lot of hardship and suffering, she says.
There were too many Black trans people being killed, murdered, and pushed out of opportunity in our movements and in the world. It felt very important to make sure that we weren’t just organizing independently of each other. That there was some coordinated collaboration across Black transgender people in the United States and all of those that support Black transgender people to really find solutions, as opposed to just reporting on what Black trans people already knew about our existence. -Elle Moxley
MPJI understands the duality of advocating for Black trans people to be alive but also to create opportunities for the community to thrive and celebrate joy. The MPJI resource map allows for trans people to gain access to resources from the state they live in within the U.S. and informs people who are not trans in order to educate themselves further on how to support trans people. This resource is particularly important for Moxley because growing up, most of the resources she found online were from a white lens.
A lot of my experience has been just moving around to try to really figure out what city will affirm all the things that I need to have a bigger, better, and beautiful life. That’s been really hard. So our hope is that the resource map is another element of support that our community is able to access for themselves, so they can continue to pursue the lives that they want versus the lives that society, the government, family, and religion tell us that we have to have. -Elle Moxley
Moxley’s hope for the future is that MPJI continues to grow and that it has the opportunity to support itself, growing to a space that creates access to Black trans people near and far.
A group of fans of the newly-formed Mumbai Indians women's team cheer at the first match of the inaugural Women's Premier League, a new professional cricket league in India. (Salimah Shivji/CBC - image credit)
It feels unreal right now because we've been wanting this [league] for so long and it's finally here. This is a feeling that's going to last forever. -Ria Raichaudhuri, cricket fan
The three-week tournament is already a big deal in India, involving big cricket names and big money. The first-ever Women's Premier League (WPL) was confirmed as one of the most lucrative female leagues in the world before the first ball was even bowled, second only to WNBA basketball.
The day that five new women's cricket teams went up for auction to investors marked one the biggest-ever financial hauls in the history of women's sports — more than $775 million Cdn. The sale of media rights has also brought in additional revenue.
Janvi Vasaikar, 12, dreams of playing cricket for the Indian national team one day. Seeing the women's cricket league start up in the country is further inspiration for her. Watching professional female players in the new league brings her hope that she might one day also be on television, impressing other young Indian girls. Janvi's teammates are also inspired by the new league, which is pointing to a potential career that was shut tight for previous generations of aspiring female cricketers, who had to fight to be taken seriously.
It's a good opportunity for us to prove that we have the power to think about the shots. Women have a lot of power and they can do it better than men. -Thia Ganatra, 15
Take Manju Choudhary who strolls into the stadium while pulling her three-year-old sister by the hand to watch the Mumbai Indians beat the Gujarat Indians. It is her very first trip to watch cricket live. When asked why she decided to come, Choudhary's answer was simple: "Because it's a women's league, that's why."
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.