You are here

F.5.iv. Political and Economic Initiatives and Protests

Volume Two -> F. Feminist Movements and Protests -> F.5. New Global Feminist Wave, 2017 onwards -> F.5.iv. Political and Economic Initiatives and Protests
Commemoration in Havana of 40 years of advancement of women’s equality and rights with a focus on pending challenges, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean – ECLAC, 2017

Joint initiative between the government of Cuba, ECLAC and the Federation of Cuban Women that saw government authorities, international officials and representatives of civil society in Havana assess the existing policies in favour of gender equality and women’s rights that have been implemented over the past 40 years in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. They also debated the main challenges that lie ahead.

Protesters criticize AMLO’s plan for domestic violence’s shelters’, TeleSur, 05/03/2019,

Human rights activists have opposed President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s plan to cut funding for women’s shelters in Mexico. The scheme is still not properly defined, but the money will instead be given directly to the victims of domestic violence. While the government’s decision does not intend to withdraw support for victims, human rights activists point out the risk of nullifying years of activism and initiatives led by civil society. In fact, they stress that giving money directly to victims can further expose them to violence.

Women’s participation in Peace Processes, Council on Foreign Relations, 30/01/2019,

A report tracking women’s participation in peace negotiations from 1990 to the present. It reveals that women comprise only two percent of mediators, five percent of witnesses and signatories, and eight percent of negotiators around the world.

See also

Murdered women can’t celebrate International Women’s Day, Foreign Policy, 07/03/2019,

Looks at the expansion of political and legal rights on gender-related issues in Latin America. The article also discusses the overall progress of women in education; their role in the labour market; and women’s access to health-care and social security. Emphasises the predominance of gender-based violence and lack of reproductive rights in the region.

The brave young people fighting for human rights in Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Amnesty International, 01/02/2019,

In the aftermath of Jair Bolsonaro’s election on an openly anti-human rights agenda, a climate of fear remains in Brazil. Yet, young people are rising up and making their voices heard. Amnesty International met seven human rights activists who reveal what life is like in Salvador, Brazil, and how they’re tackling violence against women, racism and homophobia.

Baird, Vanessa, What's sex got to do with it?, (part of 'The Big Story' on Brazil'), New Internationalist, 01/10/2017, pp. 21-22

Examines how women's rights are under attack since the ousting of President Dilma Rouseff, with scrapping of Ministry of Women and the Ministry on Racial Equality, and notes the Siempre Viva Feminist Organization opposition to dismantling government bodies to protect LGBT+ people.  The article also discusses the prevalence of rape culture, and the general impact on women of race and class. Notes growing cultural movement of women of colour, and prominent role of women's movement in protests against Temer's presidency. 

Bigio, Jamil ; Volgestein, Rachel, Women could boost the global economy, but outdated laws are holding them back, CNN Business, 15/01/2019,

Report on the signing of the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act by President Trump in the midst of the US Government shutdown, which aims at promoting opportunities for female entrepreneurs worldwide.

Bolzendahl, Catherine ; Jalalzai, FaridaAlexander, Amy, Measuring Women’s Political Empowerment across the Globe, Cham, Switzerland, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp. 320

The authors assess how women’s empowerment in the political sphere on a global scale can best be conceptualized and measured. This work argues that women’s political empowerment is a fundamental process of transformation and provides a benchmark for understanding all gains in political empowerment across the globe.

Child, David ; Soares, Joao Pedro, Brazil: Thousands of women rally against far-right Bolsonaro, Al Jazeera, 30/09/2018,

Describes the #EleNao (‘Not Him’) demonstrations led by women in Brazil against sexist statements made by President Jair Bolsonaro, sparked by his remark to 63-year-old  fellow congresswomen, Maria do Rosario: "I would never rape you because you do not deserve it". These remonstrations have been connected also to the lack of political representation of women within the Brazilian Parliament. Despite making up 52 percent of Brazil's electorate, women hold just 13 of 81 seats in the country's upper house senate.  Fewer than 11 percent of the 513 seats in the lower house Chamber of Deputies are held by women.

See also

Cordova, Cecilia, Gender and politics in Bolivia. Violent repercussions of the political ‘empowerment’ of women, Christian Aid, 2017, pp. 1-20

Analyses the reality of women’s political participation in Bolivia, and the efforts towards its promotion, within the spheres of indigenous institutions, sindicatos (i.e. trade unions) and state participation.

Darhour, Hanane ; Dahlerup, Drude, Double-Edged Politics on Women’s Rights in the MENA Region. Gender and Politics, Cham, Switzerland, Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, pp. 311

The authors explore women’s activism and political representation, as well as discursive changes, with a particular focus on secular and Islamic feminism. They also examine changes in public opinion on women’s position in society in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Jordan.

Došek, Tomas ; Freidenberg, Flavia ; Caminotti, Marianna ; Muñon-Pogossian, Betilde, Women, Politics, and Democracy in Latin America. Crossing Boundaries of Gender and Politics In The Global South, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp. 243

This book discusses trends in women’s representation and their role in politics in Latin American countries, from three different perspectives. Firstly, it examines cultural, political-partisan and organizational obstacles that women face in and outside institutions. Secondly, the book explores barriers in the political sphere, such as gender legislation implementation, public administration and international cooperation. It also proposes solutions, based on successful initiatives. Thirdly, the authors highlight the role of women in politics at the subnational level. The book combines academic expertise in various disciplines with contributions from practitioners within national and international institutions.

Feng, Emily, China’s mixed message to working women, Financial Times, 30/11/2017,

Discusses how, despite having a well-educated female workforce, the high level of employment in China is imbued with patriarchal gender norms.

Franceschet, Susan ; Krook, Mona Lena ; Tan, Netina, The Palgrave Handbook of Women’s Political Rights, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, pp. 784

Covers women’s political rights across all major regions of the world, focusing both on women’s right to vote and women’s right to run for political office. The countries explored are Afghanistan, Armenia, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, South Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States, Uganda, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.

Gatehouse, Mike, To end gender-based violence (GBV). Children Aid’s campaign in Latin America and the Caribbean, LAB, 2018

Report on grassroots initiatives promoted by Christian Aid and Latin America civil society aimed at developing a national system of data and statistics on violence against women in El Salvador. It also discusses women’s deprivation of citizen rights in the Dominican Republic; the struggle of women defending their community in the Brazilian Amazon; the need to protect the rights of LGBTIQ people in Colombia; the need to enhance the participation of women in the labour market in Guatemala, and to tackle gender based violence and its legitimisation by the Church in Bolivia.

Gurele, Anuja, Politics and feminism in China. Will women hold up half of the sky?, Chennai, Chennai Centre for China Studies, 2019, pp. 24

Following the decision by Sweden to declare an official feminist foreign policy, this report investigates China’s prospects of including feminism – or adopting it fully – in its own foreign policy.

Hawari, Yara, The political marginalization of Palestinian women in the West Bank, AlShabaka, 28/07/2019,

While Palestinian women have always faced political marginalization, developments since the Oslo Accords have caused them to endure perhaps even more formidable challenges when it comes to political participation. Al-Shabaka Palestine Policy Fellow, Yara Hawari outlines these challenges and recommends ways for Palestinian women and society to disrupt this process and revitalize the Palestinian liberation struggle through feminism. 

See also:

Hemström, Cajsa, Feminist movements as agents of political change: An analysis of feminist social movements’ impact on labour rights legislation in Morocco, Uppsala University, 2019

Inspired by the debate over whether globalisation has brought more benefits or disadvantages, and whether feminist movements around the world are gaining more agency and leverage, this thesis explores what influence feminist movements exercised on labour rights legislation in Morocco.

Hicks, Janine, Campaigning for social security rights: Women in the informal economy and maternity benefits, Agenda, Vol. 33, issue 2, 2019, pp. 32-41

This article focuses on how women in South Africa mobilised to press for a legislative response to a critical gender justice issue: access to maternity benefits for self-employed women, and women in the informal economy.

Klein, Hilary, A spark of hope: The ongoing lessons of the Zapatista revolution 25 years on, NACLA Reports on the Americas, 18/01/2019,

Klein discusses involvement of women within the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Zapatista Army of National Liberation, EZLN). The movement is now engaged in activities such as peaceful mobilizations, dialogue with civil society, and structures of political, economic, and cultural autonomy even though it was previously known as a military movement demanding justice and democracy for Indigenous peasants in Southern Mexico. Women’s activism in fighting patriarchy, discrimination and violence across the Zapatista territory is crucial.

Mkhize, Gabi ; Mgcotyelwa-Ntoni, Nwabisa, The impact of women’s movements’ activism experiences on gender transformation policies in democratic South Africa, Agenda, Vol. 33, issue 2, 2019, pp. 9-21

The authors argue that the activism of women’s movements has helped achieve South African government policies designed to promote women’s equality (for example in employment) and women’s empowerment. They draw on a 2017 qualitative study of leading women in the government to illustrate this link. They recognize, however, that there are still social and psychological barriers within government impeding women with activist experience from achieving radical outcomes, and that ‘gendered discourse still disadvantages women across racial identities, gender orientations and (dis)abilities’.

Mussi, Daniela ; Bianchi, Alvaro, Rise of the Radical Right, NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. 50, issue 4, 2018, pp. 351-355

The authors contextualise women in the election of and resistance to newly elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in October 2018.

Muzee, Hannah ; Endeley, Joyce B. Mbongo, “Sister Robert, sister John”: Enhancing women’s voices and gendered membership of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association, Agenda, Vol. 33, issue 2, 2019, pp. 22-31

This article focuses primarily on the Ugandan Women’s Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) as a key part of the wider women’s movement in Uganda. It considers how women members of parliament were able to give more prominence to women’s concerns in policy debates, but also how they were strengthened, when pressing for gender-sensitive laws and policies, by women’s collective backing. The findings also show that success in achieving laws such as Domestic Violence Act and Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation was due to collaborating with male legislators, some of whom joined UWOPA.

Pasqual, Cira, Women and the crisis in Venezuela: a conversation with Gioconda Mota, Venezueananalysis, 30/11/2018,

Venezuela veteran activist for women’s rights, Gioconda Mota, discusses the growth of feminist movements in Venezuela. She pays particular attention to how they have contributed to the improvement of existing legal frameworks on the issue of gender violence and women’s role in the economy, and how much work is still needed with regard to dissident sexualities and abortion. She also discusses the predominantly sexist nature of justice administration, and the lack of women’s participation in strategic spheres of power, despite the increased participation in communal councils, social organisations and committees. She also sheds light on the feminisation of poverty, due to the double burden of productivity and care on women. The interview with Mota came after a group of feminist researchers released a ground-breaking report on the situation of women’s human rights in Venezuela, called ‘Desde Nosotras’ (From Us), whose 250 pages reveal the key challenges facing the political, economic, health, sexual and reproductive rights of Venezuelan women today.

Price, Vicky, Women vs Capitalism: Why We Can’t Haveit All in a Free Market Economy, London, Hurst Publishers, 2019, pp. 360

Distinguished British economist Vicky Pryce examines how discrimination against women is built into the free market system, both in terms of the pay gap, glass ceiling and obstacles to entering work; and also in the implications of the growing role of robots. She argues that equality for women requires ‘radical changes to contemporary capitalism’.

Radebe, Keneilwe, Custom-based or gender-based approach? Considering the impact of the National Movement of Rural Women as amicus curiae in litigation involving rural women, Agenda, Vol. 33, issue 2, 2019, pp. 42-51

The National Movement of Rural Women (NMRW), formerly known as the Rural Women’s Movement, was established in 1990 with a focus on, among others, uniting rural women and giving them a voice. Amongst the organisation’s aims was to create forums for rural women to unite against oppression, have equal rights to land and a say in political matters. The organisation has contributed as amicus curiae – ‘a friend of the court’ – to dealing with customary law cases involving inheritance, marriage and chieftaincy disputes. This article explores the two approaches used by the NMRW as friend of the court - the custom-based and gender-based approach - and concludes that these two approaches are in direct conflict with each other.

Ruiz, Héctor, No Justice for Guatemalan Women: An Update Twenty Years After Guatemala's First Violence Against Women Law, Hastings Women’s Law Journal, Vol. 29, issue 1, 2018, pp. 101-124

This paper explores twenty years of legislation to protect women and the progress made. It also examines the attitudes towards women and girls that have been fueled by the thirty-six year internal conflict (1960-1996).

Schild, Veronica, Chilean students confront machismo on Campus (Interview), NACLA Reports on the Americas, Vol. 50, issue 4, 2018, pp. 411-417

This long interview discusses the new rise of feminist protests in Chilean university and educational institutions, that emerged in April/May 2018 demanding an end to the reproduction of unequal gender roles, unequal pay and the streaming of women into low-paying careers. More generally, the new debate on feminism, which challenges the neo-liberal system, enables the politicisation of women and encourages forms of collaboration with ‘NiUnaMenos’.

Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie, Gender And Representation In Latin America, New York, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 352

This work examines the institutional and contextual causes and consequences of women's representation in Latin America. The authors argue that gender inequality in political representation in Latin America is rooted in institutions, but also affected by the democratic challenges and political crises facing Latin American countries. These challenges influence the number of women and men elected to office, what they do once there, how much power they gain access to, and how their presence and actions influence democracy and society more broadly.

Sherriff, Lucy, Colombia was just starting to deliver justice to women. Will a new president get in the way?, Time, 19/06/2018,

The article discusses the use of sexual violence against women during the conflict between the government, far-right paramilitary groups, left-wing guerrillas and drug cartels that began in Colombia in the 1960s. It then suggests the election of Conservative Ivan Duque, who has repeatedly pledged to roll back parts of the landmark 2016 peace agreement with rebels from the FARC group, is a risk factor for the protection and promotion of women’s rights.

Tzul-Tzul, Galdys, Rebuilding communal life, NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. 50, issue 4, 2018, pp. 404-407

It examines the communal rebuilding in Guatemala after the war (1970-1996) with a focus on the struggle of Ixil women to recover the remains of those killed during the war. Their activity is also centred on the resistance to the expropriation of land, weaving and textile expropriation, and the genetic modification of crops. It includes the testimonies of those who were victims of rape during the war period.

Zulver, Julia, Colectiva Matamba Resists, NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. 50, issue 4, 2018, pp. 377-380

This article provides an account of the Colectiva Matamba Acción Afrodiaspórica (Matamba Afro-Diasporic Action Collective)’s group of women activists fighting racism, sexism, colonialism and capitalism. They argue for an intersectional feminism and discuss a distinction between Black women’s feminism and white women’s lack of acknowledgment of white supremacy within the context of their feminist struggles. The work also establishes a comparison between displacement and sexual violence pre- and post-conflict that formally ended in 2019 with a peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC in 2016.

Websites recommended

Global Database on Violence Against Women - 2020,

This link provides links to all countries in the world that give access to reports undertaken by UN Women on any type of violence suffered by women.