In preparation for the 2023 OGP Summit, we highlighted in our previous blog post the current state of feminism in Open Government Partnership (OGP) countries. As we observed, women’s and LGBTQ+ rights have regressed in different parts of the world, and COVID only worsened the situation.
In our call for reflections on this topic, we received submissions from our community members from non-OGP countries as well. Today, we share those notes from three countries, further revealing that progress made towards building a feminist society is slow, if any.
(Note: was once an OGP member. Its membership was withdrawn in March 2022.
Gender-based violence (GBV) since 2019 has exponentially increased in Pakistan, with women now subjected to online and offline abuse more than before. While the Aurat March brought forward a new wave of feminism in Pakistan with more women stepping out and speaking about the emotional, physical and economic abuse they face, it also led to women receiving backlash, particularly to reinforce that the personal is political. The pandemic confined everyone at home and it made things even more difficult for women in Pakistan as we saw a surge in cases related to GBV and OGBV during the lockdown.
After the pandemic, we continued to see violence against women on the rise, with cases like Noor Mukadam's and Motorway's rape case. Noor's case, in particular, shook the country when the former diplomat's daughter was murdered in the capital brutally, and to this day, it seems there is no accountability for the murderer. In Noor's case, she was unmarried and witnessed intimate partner violence that led to her death. Debates around Noor's morality and character made rounds on the media, and no sensitivity was shown by the media in reporting on a sensitive case like this.
The journey towards achieving fundamental human rights in the country still very much remains a struggle and while improvements have been made with more women talking about structural patriarchal issues in existing models and institutions, there is a lot more that needs to be done by the state to understand the threats and abuse that women face in public and private spaces.
(Submitted by Seerat Khan)
Since the right-wing populist and national-conservative party Law and Justice came into power in 2015, the state of feminism in Poland has been marked mostly by setbacks. The country has experienced significant social and political polarisation on issues related to women's rights, leading to a complex and contentious landscape. The most significant policy affecting women's rights in Poland is the Constitutional Tribunal ruling in October 2020 (Case K 1/20), which declared abortion in cases of severe fetal abnormalities unconstitutional. This ruling essentially banned almost all abortions in Poland, except for cases when the pregnancy poses a threat to the life or health of the pregnant woman or when there is a reasonable suspicion that the pregnancy resulted from a prohibited act.
Consequently, the new law makes it impossible to perform an abortion in the case of severe fetal defects. Importantly, the law imposes penalties on anyone who performs an abortion assists or induces a pregnant woman to do so. However, the woman herself is not held responsible for terminating the pregnancy. This places Poland as the worst country in Europe for contraception access. The ruling sparked massive protests across the country and drew international attention and condemnation. Women's rights activists and feminist groups have been at the forefront of the protests, advocating for the right to access safe and legal abortion, as well as women's autonomy over their bodies. Tragically, due to the high level of risk on the side of medical personnel, who are afraid to perform an abortion, there have been dramatic deaths of a few women. These cases received extensive media coverage and fueled further protests with the motto 'Not one more.'
Notable among the activists is the case of Justyna Wydrzyńska from the Abortion Dream Team. The court sentenced her to eight months of restriction of liberty for providing another woman with Misoprostol, abortion-inducing pills. In addition to the abortion restrictions, the Polish government's approach to gender equality and reproductive health is criticised for being conservative and not adequately addressing women's rights issues. The government pursues policies that limit comprehensive sexual education in schools and promote abstinence-focused programs. This approach has been met with resistance from activists who argue that comprehensive sexual education is essential for empowering young people with accurate information and promoting healthy relationships. Furthermore, the government's response to gender-based violence and the gender pay gap is also a point of contention. It's important to note that Poland has not signed the Istanbul Convention, a comprehensive international treaty aimed at preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, since the year 2020. This decision raises concerns about the government's commitment to effectively addressing these pressing issues.
(Submitted by Anna Wenerska-Dzieduch)
In the last few years, a feminist agenda has been taking shape in Venezuela in a context where most Venezuelan women are suffering a significant humanitarian and financial crisis.
Despite the fact that in 2021, a reform to the Organic Law for the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence was published, including new gender-based crimes such as computer, obstetric and political violence, and despite the fact that in that same year, the Rules of Action for Police and Criminal Investigation Officials for early and timely attention to victims of gender violence were approved, there are important aspects that persist and limit the efficiency of State action in prevention and mitigation tasks, such as underreporting and the limited infrastructure for care of women at risk or threatened by acts of gender violence.
In terms of sexual and reproductive rights, Venezuela has a Humanized Childbirth Law that is a pioneer in the region in bringing to the fore the need to attend to the care process in a humane and respectful manner during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as regulations that favour the incentive of labour conditions favourable to Breastfeeding, both reformed during the past year.
However, the country has not yet reached the long-awaited free access to abortion, a situation aggravated by the costly access to contraceptives. Access to personal hygiene items and contraceptives has motivated different NGOs operating in the country, as well as the State, to organise operations in some cities of the country to facilitate access to subdermal contraceptive devices, although, as is logical, the access to contraceptive devices is still limited. scope of this type of action.
Gender-based violence is undereported and mainly monitored by CSOs (e.g. Femicidios archivos - Utopix and Yenchi). Due to the humanitarian crisis, numerous Venezuelan women migrants are subject to violence in neighbouring countries.
The Programmatic Agenda for Women 2019-2025 is still under consolidation process and looks forward to guaranteeing some pending rights for women in the country.
(Submitted by Maria Angela Petrizzo Páez)