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Global Roundup: Palestinian and Israeli Women’s Peace Protest, Jailed Iranian Activist Wins Nobel Peace Prize, Two-Spirit Indigenous History, Kenya LGBTQ+ Community, Diasporic African Women’s Art Show
Curated by FG Contributor Inaara Merani
Activists from various local and foreign NGOs gather around the Tolerance Monument in a park in Jerusalem, as they take part in a joint event organised by the Israeli “Women Wage Peace” and the Palestinian “Women of the Sun” movements, demanding an end to the cycle of bloodshed and a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, on October 4, 2023. (AFP
Just days before conflict broke out between Hamas and the Israeli military, hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli women rallied in Jerusalem and the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank calling for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On Wednesday last week, the protesters chanted and held signs, symbolically dressed in white.
Our message is that we want our kids to be alive rather than dead. This is the first time that we have a real partnership between Israeli and Palestinian women on an equal level. – Hudda Abu Arqoub, Palestinian activist and director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace NGO
The protesters first rallied in Jerusalem, and then marched to the Dead Sea in the West Bank where they were joined by more demonstrators. Those who were present at the protest say that they want the conflict brought to an end through talks. However, participants say that many Palestinian women were unable to attend as they could not obtain authorization for entering Jerusalem from the West Bank.
The Alliance for Middle East Peace represents two women-led associations -- Women Wage Peace and Women of the Sun -- that organised Wednesday’s rally.
I feel very happy to be here and to feel that we, the Palestinian women, are not alone and there are many women who want to end the killings. -Yasmeen Soud, a Palestinian from Bethlehem at the demonstration in Jerusalem
Pascale Chen, a coordinator from Women Wage Peace, said they wanted the conflict to brought to an end through talks.
The objective is to issue a joint call from mothers, Israeli and Palestinian, to our two leaderships asking them to return to the negotiating table to finally arrive at a diplomatic accord. -Pascale Chen
A few days after the women’s protest, the Hamas militant group launched an attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people and wounded more than 2,700. Israel declared war and launched airstrikes on Gaza that have killed 1,055 people and wounded more than 5,000 so far.
Israeli authorities, the occupying power over Gaza under international law, have a duty to ensure that the basic needs of the population are met. Instead, they have since 2007 run Gaza as an “open air prison,” imposing sweeping restrictions on the movement of people and goods. In the wake of the weekend attacks, authorities are now closing those prison walls in further. -Akshaya Kumar, Director of Crisis Advocacy, Human Rights Watch
It is imperative to remember the historical context and the need for decolonization and resurgence in this region, and to remember the Palestinian and Israeli women who were advocating for a peaceful resolution to this conflict.
Iranian human rights activist and the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) Narges Mohammadi poses in this undated handout picture. Mohammad family archive photos/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo (Reuters)
Imprisoned women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi has won the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to fighting for women’s rights in Iran. The award-making committee said that this prize was meant to honour all those behind the recent demonstrations in Iran, also calling for the release of Mohammadi who, for three decades, has campaigned for women’s rights and the abolition of the death penalty.
We hope to send the message to women around the world that are living in conditions where they are systematically discriminated: ‘Have the courage, keep on going’. We want to give the prize to encourage Narges Mohammadi and the hundreds of thousands of people who have been crying for exactly ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ in Iran. – Berit Reiss-Andersen, head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
Mohammadi is currently serving multiple sentences at Evin Prison in Iran, amounting to around 12 years of imprisonment, but this is only one of the many times that she has been detained behind bars. Some of the charges laid against her include spreading propaganda against the state. Moahmmadei, who has been held three times in Evin Prison since 2012, has been unable to see her husband for fifteen years and her children for seven years.
Mohammadi is also currently the deputy head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), an NGO led by Sharon Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and now lives in exile. The DHRC was founded in 2001 and has since been active in defending the rights of women, political prisoners, and minorities in Iran.
This Nobel Prize will embolden Narges’ fight for human rights, but more importantly, this is in fact a prize for the ‘woman, life and freedom’ movement. She will feel much stronger in her endeavours for human rights in Iran and for everyone who hopes for a better situation in Iran. – Taghi Rahmani, Mohammadi’s husband
A beaded tiara, earrings and brooch donated to the University of Winnipeg Two-Spirit Archives by Kelly Houle. Credit: David Lipnowski/University of Winnipeg (Xtra Magazine)
Over the last 40 years, Two-Spirit activist and HIV educator Albert McLeod has gathered a number of items such as posters, photographs, Pride t-shirts, conference proceedings, and an autographed book from Two-Spirit writer Tomson Highway. Each of these items tells a story about Two-Spirit life in North America from the late 1970s until today, and McLeod knew they would be important for the future.
The archive is for people to know that those people, in that 40 year history, were citizens of Canada. Many were First Nations, some were Métis, some were Inuit, They had territorial rights. They had Indigenous rights. They cannot be erased from our history because of homophobia and transphobia. They were equal citizens just like everybody else, and they should be remembered. Many of those people from the early ‘80s have since passed away prematurely. There are very few of us left alive to reflect on their journey. – Albert McLeod
In 2011, the activist went to the University of Winnipeg to see if these artifacts and materials could be put into a space where they could be shared with others. Today, the University of Winnipeg holds the Two-Spirit Archives, which is believed to be the largest collection of material on Two-Spirit people in Canada. Organized by University archivist and digital curator Brett Lougheed, the archive consists of records, banners, videos, and a full set of ceremonial regalia.
These items, which have been compiled over the last several decades, offer an essential tool for individuals looking to find information on their legacies and identities. This growing and thriving archive means that queer Indigenous experiences can never be erased from the national narrative, which has happened too often.
When Two-Spirit people donate materials from their own lives, they will not be giving them up to the university forever; an Indigenous stewardship agreement allows donors to own their records while the archive takes over stewardship responsibilities. The University of Winnipeg, McLeod, and other Two-Spirit activists are calling on people across the country to donate their records and objects to help tell more stories of queer Indigenous life throughout history.
I want to encourage more people from my generation to donate what they have. I understand there is still a lot of fear and concern around being targeted for being out. It’s still very real in Canada. But queer Indigenous people are part of Canadian history, and every person has a right for their story to be told. – Albert McLeod
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Participants hold a Pride flag as they attend the Badilika festival to celebrate the LGBT rights in Nairobi, Kenya, June 11, 2023. REUTERS/Monica’s Mwangi (Openly)
Ten months since a Supreme Court win, LGBTQ+ Kenyans say they feel more emboldened to fight for their rights and report hate crime - even as they face protests and a legislative proposal to toughen penalties same sex relations.
In February, the Kenyan Supreme Court allowed the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC), a rights group, to register as an NGO, a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community. In its ruling 10 months ago, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the right of registration of the NGLHRC based on the Kenyan Constitution, stating that denying the organization's application for registration was equivalent to denying people their constitutional rights.
Although LGBTQ+ rights in Kenya are highly contested, the LGBTQ+ community says that they feel their existence has finally been legally justified in society.
We have renewed strength to advocate for the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ individuals in Kenya. – Annette Atieno, communication officer at the NGLHRC
While the Kenyan LGBTQ+ community has been on a high since the February ruling, the country has seen a surge in reported incidences of abuse, including assaults, threats, and discrimination. Additionally, MP Peter Karima proposed a bill to parliament in May that would undo the Supreme Court’s decision and subsequently limit LGBTQ+ peoples’ rights of assembly, expression and demonstration. The proposed bill would also establish a new offense similar to those being pushed forward in Uganda and Ghana, punishing individuals by death for “aggravated homosexuality”, which includes engaging in same-sex relations with a minor or disabled person.
In many African countries, such as Uganda, Ghana, and Nigeria, homophobic rhetoric within government structures and society have skyrocketed. Whilst recognizing the continuous challenges that lie ahead, LGBTQ+ Kenyans have said they feel vindicated by the Supreme Court’s decision.
Artist DAZI..AN’s work Transition, 2022 is part of the group show Ritual as Practice on now at Emily Carr University’s Libby Leshgold Gallery. PHOTO BY COURTESY OF THE ARTIST (Vancouver Sun)
At Canadian-based Emily Carr University (ECU), the Practice as Ritual art show is on display at the Libby Leshgold Gallery, in celebration and commemoration of Black women artists over the last three decades. The exhibition showcases the work of nine Black women artists who participated in the historic 1989 Diasporic African Women’s Art (DAWA) exhibition. The original DAWA exhibition, Black Wimmin: When and Where We Enter, marked the first time in Canadian history that an art exhibition addressed the exclusion of Black women artists in Canada.
Practice as Ritual features paintings, photography, text, installations, videos, and sculptures from all but two of the artists that were featured in the original show. In addition to the works of the original artists, new commissioned work is also featured. The purpose of this show is to highlight the sustained aesthetic and everyday practices of the artists who critically challenge the structures that discriminate against Black women’s lives today.
The title of the exhibition, Practice as Ritual, refers to the overarching theme that emerges in the artwork on display, as well as in Black peoples’ pasts, presents, and futures. The exhibition has already completed showings in Toronto and Montreal, and seeks to continue their tour across Canada with stops in Ontario next year.
This landmark exhibit re-centres the voices of Black women artists whose practices and cultural networks collectively shaped (and continue to shape) cultural discourse concerning place-making and the institutional histories of Black women and exhibition making. – Lewis, director and curator at Vancouver’s Artspeak Gallery
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.