Global Roundup: Promoting Taiwanese Indigenous Culture via EDM, Benin’s New Abortion Laws, The Women’s Foundation of the South, Spain’s Groundbreaking Fertility Law, Emergency Code for GBV Survivors
Compiled by Inaara Merani
Photo courtesy of Dungi Sapor
Indigenous Taiwanese DJ, Dungi Sapor, is promoting her Amis heritage and Indigenous Taiwanese culture as a whole through electronic dance music (EDM). Sapor studied law in college with hopes to become an Indigenous lawyer, but later realized that law was not her calling. After travelling to New Zealand, she had the opportunity to meet Maori people, and began to realize the many similarities between Maori and Taiwanese people, one of them being music.
Through a combination of Indigenous traditional music and electronic music, Sapor creates her own music. Although Indigenous Taiwanese music previously centred around singing, it has now branched out into more diverse genres such as hip hop group boxing.
One of the earliest creators of Indigenous Taiwanese EDM, Sapor is hoping to release three singles before the end of the year. Her music embodies strength and resilience in an effort to protect and share her Indigenous heritage.
I might want to transition in what I do after. I might focus on DJing now, but I want to be more a cultural promoter that also DJs in the future. To promote Indigenous culture. To see if there are Indigenous young people who are interested in DJing, since they have dreams of their own. It’s hard to balance trying to preserve Indigenous culture and also work to survive. Indigenous are often poorer and face social pressures, so might not want to do what they want to. But there are a lot of people who are talented. So I might be able to help a younger generation of Indigenous musicians. Indigenous culture is increasingly fading. - Dungi Sapor
Amending a previously existing law, Benin’s parliament voted to legalize abortion in most circumstances - a huge win in the nation. The law states that “upon the request of the pregnant woman, voluntary termination of pregnancy can be allowed when the pregnancy is likely to aggravate or cause a situation of material, educational, professional or moral distress incompatible with the interest of the woman and/or the unborn child.” What this means is that the new law has now expanded to protect a woman’s career or education, whereas previously women could only obtain a legal abortion if the pregnancy threatened their life or if it was a result of incest or sexual assault.
Rather than resorting to unsafe and illegal abortions, this new law will open doors for women who cannot afford to have a baby for any number of reasons.
Benin’s new law will provide more women with access to safe abortion in instances that they may not want, or be able, to continue with a pregnancy.
For instance, a student who gets pregnant and fears dropping out of school as result, can request for her pregnancy to be terminated to give her chance to complete her studies. Previous studies have shown that continuation of studies is a common reason among girls and young women terminating pregnancy. - Ramatou Ouedraogo, Associate Research Scientist, African Population and Health Research Center
As has been seen around the world, when abortion is illegal, women do not stop getting abortions; rather, they turn to abortion services that can have detrimental impacts. This is especially true in areas where women are economically vulnerable. In Benin, it was estimated that around 15% of maternal deaths resulted from unsafe abortions.
Going beyond the Maputo Protocol, Benin’s decision to legalize abortion in a number of cases demonstrates that women’s sexual and reproductive health rights are being recognized and responded to. There are still 48 African countries which have yet to provide safe access to abortion. Although this new law still needs to be developed further, it will ultimately support and empower women across Benin.
Source: Women’s Foundation of the South
In an effort to enact transformational change to benefit the South and the US as a whole, Southern Black women leaders have been using philanthropy to uplift society. A new addition to the many organizations which utilize philanthropy as a way to uplift civil rights, politics, education and social justice is the recently launched nonprofit organization Women’s Foundation of the South (WFS). This organization envisions a South where women and girls of colour are healthy and safe, and are equipped with the resources to determine their futures and support their families.
It’s time to write the next chapter for womxn and girls of color in the South. Our mission is to center and invest in [their] collective power, health, well-being, economic security, and leadership. We stand ready to lead the way. - Carmen James Randolph, Founding CEO and President of WFS
Launched in August and led by women of colour, WFS strives to serve as a gateway for donors, foundations, corporations, and investors to maximize the social impact of their investments of women of colour living in the South. The organization will serve women of colour in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Valuing equity justice, sisterhood, power-sharing, ingenuity, self-determination and more, WFS will mobilize women and girls of colour in the South by working on intersectional issues in a number of areas. Recognizing that women closest to the problem are also the closest to the solutions, the Women’s Foundation of the South is reimagining the future and starting a movement.
Health minister Carolina Darias signed the order at a ceremony attended by LGBT+ activists. (Twitter/FELGTB)
In 2013, the conservative Popular Party in Spain retracted a law which provided queer and single people access to publicly funded fertility treatment. While straight, married couples were able to access free fertility treatment in public hospitals, queer couples were forced to pay out of pocket for the same treatments. Last week however, this law was overturned by Spain’s health minister, extending free fertility treatment to queer women, single cis women, trans and nonbinary people.
Starting today, single women, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people will have access to [reproductive technologies] on the [public health service]. We have restored rights that should never have been abolished. - Carolina Darias, health minister
Spanish LGBTQ+ activists have been fighting for the reinstatement of this bill, and have finally emerged victorious. However, their fight is not over. Homophobia still remains a large issue in Spain. Activists and allies will not stop until the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Spain are fully recognized and implemented.
We will not be able to be citizens with all rights fully recognised as long as the conditions of freedom and equality of all people are not guaranteed, whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression...We are not going to stop because our struggle is daily, resilient and active...We have history, we have memory, we have strength, we have every conviction and we are right; they will never stop us. - Uge Sangil, President of Spain’s federation of LGBT+ rights groups
Agnes Malesi (left) explains to Macjoy Khayali, how the short code for reporting GBV cases during the interview at the Dhobi Women Network offices in Kileleshwa on October 21, 2021. Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group
Dhobi Women Network (DWN) in Kenya just launched an emergency code for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) to seek help. The USSD code *483*143# allows survivors to anonymously report incidents, connect with hospitals for treatments, receive tele-counselling, and find shelter.
The USSD code has incorporated the free toll lines giving multiple options in accessing emergency help. - Grace Ngugi, Executive Director of DWN
The idea for this emergency code came last March after severe lockdown and curfew measures were implemented in Kenya. Grace Ngugi, Executive Director of DWN, recalls receiving phone calls from women seeking help after experiencing GBV. It became difficult to try and serve all the survivors at the same time as every survivor was in need of immediate attention.
The confidentiality of this service is definitely an added benefit, as anyone can report an instance of GBV without having their identity disclosed. This platform also offers services for children’s rights, human rights violations, individuals living with a disability, and more.
The Nyumba Kumi initiative was introduced in Kenya a few years ago as a form of community policing. Nyumba Kumi members act as administrative officers within villages, and support individuals with any issues they may be facing. Many of these members receive training on confidentiality and documenting offences, such as GBV, and many are also trained as paralegals to offer sufficient legal guidance.
Together, these community-based, grassroots organizations are paving the way for a safer future for women and girls in Kenya.
Inaara Merani (she/her) is a recent graduate from the University of Ottawa where she studied International Development and Globalization with a minor in Women’s Studies. She is an Ismaili Muslim Canadian who is deeply passionate about human rights, social justice and feminism, and in turn, dismantling the patriarchy and ensuring that all women have safe and equal access to all their rights. She hopes to pursue a career in law so that she can continue to fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups everywhere. She also enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her beautiful cat.