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International Women's Day 2019

Activist guides

WoMin has launched three activist guides to support women and communities across Africa in their struggles for climate justice and sustainable energy futures. WoMin, launched in October 2013, is an African gender and extractives alliance, which works alongside national and regional movements and popular organisations of women, mining-impacted communities and peasants, and in partnership with other sympathetic organisations.

Here are summaries of the three activist guides:

Women stand their ground against big coal: Big businesses, development banks and some governments are pushing for the expansion of coal projects in Africa. They say coal is the way to develop countries and widen African people's access to energy. But communities are pushing back against this plan because coal is extremely harmful to people and the planet. Communities want existing coal mines and power stations to be phased out, and new coal projects stopped. Find out how women activists are leading the fight to defend their communities' land, water and forests.

False solutions to climate change: chasing profits while the climate burns: The world is hurtling towards a climate crisis in which Africa and particularly peasant and working-class women will be hardest hit. Yet we are being fed corporate-driven solutions that are about making more profit at the expense of people and planet and about avoiding regulation to curb emissions. These false solutions will delay putting real, urgent and effective solutions into action. But women are fighting back against false solutions in defence of land, water, forests, families and communities. Learn more about the different kinds of false solutions and how feminist movements are rallying for the 'right to say NO' to these solutions while building meaningful alternatives for a just and sustainable future! The false solutions addressed in this report are: carbon trading, clean coal, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), agrofuels, nuclear energy, megadams, natural and landfill gas, and geoengineering.

Women, the guardians of rivers and fighting big dams: African governments, corporations and development banks promote big hydroelectric dams as a clean energy alternative to fossil fuels. They say such dams do not add to climate change. They also say that by selling the electricity, big dams can earn much needed money for African countries, and that big dams will provide energy for African countries which have huge energy poverty. But the reality could not be further from the truth. Find out why big dams are not the solution for a country's citizens and economy and how women are fighting back against big dams to protect their families, livelihoods, and communities.

The three activist guides are online at or

Free Stella Nyanzi

On Saturday 9th March, a small group of activists from Ghana, concerned by the continued incarceration of Ugandan feminist activist Dr Stella Nyanzi, rallied by the symbolic national independence Square to raise awareness on the dangers of remaining quiet to injustice.

Despite living in an era of whistleblowers and pushing to hold our leaders accountable, there has been very little continental efforts to defend the freedom and liberty of activists and human rights defenders from other African countries.

For some of us with Ugandan ancestry, our relatives were not too sure how to process the Stella Nyanzi case. They are numbed and weary from the daily absurdities of living under Museveni's regime and disregard of human rights, but still congratulated us for taking a stand, lifting a bit of the cloak of hopelessness around Stella's release.

When Stella Nyanzi first got arrested in April 2017, legions of her fans, supporters and activists swung into action, demanding that the Ugandan government #FreeStellaNyanzi.

She had been arrested and charged with Cyber Harassment and Offensive Communications under sections 24 and 25 of Uganda's 2011 Computer Misuse Act. These so-called offensive communications included describing Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda, as a 'pair of buttocks'.

We recognise and appreciate the activism of Dr Stella Nyanzi. In spite of being personally vilified and professionally sidelined, she does not give up, and stays firm to her values. She has declared that she is continuing her resistance from prison, the least we can do is amplify her struggle from our own locations.

Read the full story at:

Bringing #MeToo to the fashion industry

The global #MeToo movement has put a spotlight on sexual harassment and violence in various industries including the film and music industries. It is now time for the fashion industry to address these issues within their supply chains, one organisation says.

Coinciding with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector, Human Rights Watch (HRW ‒ launched a report in February 2019 detailing cases of sexual harassment in garment factors and urging apparel companies to address the issue head on.

"Women shouldn't have to choose between dignity and jobs, and the constant struggle to keep a job and put food on the plate means women often feel compelled to swallow their dignity and normalise sexual harassment at work," Aruna Kashyap from HRW's Women's Rights Division told IPS.

Around the world, millions of women are employed by the 2.4 trillion-dollar apparel industry. But because of their sex, they face numerous challenges including sexual and verbal harassment.

While countries such as India and Pakistan do have laws around sexual harassment at work, they are often poorly enforced. Additionally, 59 countries do not have specific legal remedies for sexual harassment in employment.

Read the full story at

The HRW report is posted at

Gender quotas help women parliamentarians to rise in numbers

When the Inter Parliamentary Union, based in Switzerland, released its annual report on the representation of women legislators worldwide, four of the top five countries were from the developing world. Rwanda led the way with 61.3% of the seats held by women in its lower or single house of parliament followed by Cuba (53.2%), Bolivia (53.1%) and Mexico (48.2%). The fifth place was held by Sweden (47.3%), the only Western industrialized country among the top five.

The next five countries in descending order were Grenada, Namibia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and South Africa, completing the top 10, with the world's largest number of women parliamentarians.

The survey was released to coincide with a two-week long meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

According to the Inter Parliamentary Union's yearly analysis, the share of women in national parliaments increased by nearly one percentage point last year, from 23.4 per cent in 2017 to 24.3 per cent in 2018. Countries with well-designed gender quotas elected significantly more women to parliament than those without, respectively, 7 points more in single or lower chambers, and 17 points more in upper chambers.

Despite advances in gender representation in legislative bodies, the track record of women in the executive branches of government – as heads of state or heads of government ‒ remains low. Speaking to reporters March 8, the President of the UN General Assembly. María Fernanda Espinosa said currently only 5% of all Prime Ministers worldwide are female and not more than 5% of Presidents in the world are women.

Read the full article at:

The Inter Parliamentary Union analysis is posted at

Protecting women's space in politics

Women human rights defenders around the globe are facing heightened threats of violence and repression. Sometimes they are targeted for being activists, and sometimes just for being women. World leaders should do much more to secure space for women's safe participation in public life.

Women who are in the public eye as they challenge established norms and take on powerful interests, from governments to insurgencies to criminal gangs, are prominent targets; and women leaders representing neglected constituencies – such as the poor, ethnic and sexual minorities, displaced persons or migrants – are also preyed upon.

The murder in March of Brazilian Marielle Franco, a Rio de Janeiro city council member, is a case in point. In addition to being a campaigner against corruption and police brutality, Franco was a powerful advocate for black women, the LGBT community and youth. The investigation has moved slowly.

From a global perspective, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst highlighted in a 2019 report that in the current political climate – where there has been both a backlash against human rights around the world and a rise in misogynistic rhetoric among political leaders – human rights defenders who are women "have been facing increased repression and violence across the globe". The report suggests that these women are sometimes targeted for the causes they promote, and sometimes simply because they are women who are publicly asserting themselves.

Moreover, in addition to the risk of attack that all activists face, women activists are vulnerable to gender-specific abuse – which can include stigmatisation, public shaming (as a perceived way to damage their "honour"), threats of sexual violence, online harassment and killings.

Despite women's longstanding role in informal dispute resolution, their near absence from peace talks and similar international security processes and mechanisms, as in Yemen or Afghanistan, requires particular attention. One concern about the threat of violence or attack on women activists is that it not only affects their safety, but could chill their participation in public life, where women are already under-represented. Globally, only a quarter of parliamentarians are women, and nearly all heads of state or government leaders are men.

The implications of violence against women activists and politicians are broad, not just for families, but also for the well-being of societies at large. Failure to protect women like Marielle Franco sends a terrible signal to women and girls wanting to raise their voice in the public square. Chilling their participation in public life would be a tragedy not just for the women whose potential is being squandered but for the communities in which they live.

Read the full article at:

The UN Special Rapporteur's 2019 report is posted at

Published in Chain Reaction #135, April 2019. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia.

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