Challenges in 2016 with feminists’ perspectives

2016-01-08 | FemPers padlock


Sustainable solidarity, feminist solutions for integration, exposing the sex industry, women in decision-making positions... Feministiskt Perspektiv have asked six prominent feminists in different parts of the world to comment on the challenges facing the world in 2016; Nesreen Salem (Egypt), Bushra Khaliq (Pakistan), Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisia), Parvin Ardalan (Iran), Biljana Kašić (Croatian) och Lydia Cacho (Mexico).

Nesreen Salem is a writer and PhD student at Birkbeck University of London, studying Creative Writing in the fields of feminism, Middle Eastern and Andalusian history, mythology and fairytales in the Arabian Nights.

”2016 arrives with the bloodied burdens of its previous years, particularly in the Middle East: the largest refugee migration since WW2 and the very real threat of global terrorism has created a crisis like no other and a much greater need to address women’s rights globally. Mothers, many of them widowed or separated from the husbands due to the war, have been made stateless and vulnerable along with their children, and much more in danger of falling prey to human trafficking, poverty and all forms of abuse. Their situation is made doubly precarious due to inadequate or nonexistent legal protection in the various locations they have fled to.

Politicians everywhere want us to believe that terrorism and refugees are the greatest threats to our countries, and the increasing Islamophobia is a natural byproduct to the ensuing chaos. It seems that the greatest challenge in 2016 will be not to lose our human empathy to those whose struggles do not end when they arrive at a coast safer than the land from which they have fled.”

Bushra Khaliq is currently Executive Director of Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE) and brings 15 year rich experience in the fields of human rights and development, with focus on women, children and labor rights. She is strongly linked to class and social movements across Pakistan.

”Persisting and increasing social inequality coupled with chronic religiosity is resulting into the ugly consolidation of women marginalization in Pakistan. Women lives under the heavy influence of religion, oppressive social structures, discriminatory State Laws and biased Institutions like; Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), the poor socio- economic and political status of women, in general, will most probably remain as it is in 2016, as we did not witness any concrete steps aims at weakening of those oppressive structures. The continuously shrinking spaces for the progressive women voices would remain a major matter of concerns for all of us in 2016 Pakistan.”

Lina Ben Mheeni is a cyberactivist and teaching assistant in Linguistics at the University of Tunis. With her blog "A Tunisian Girl", she became one of the most prominent and courageous bloggers in the Arab world. She was nominated for the Nobel peace prize 2011.

”My country is always presented as a leading and pioneering country when it comes to women rights in the Arab region and in the world in general. It is true that there are numerous laws guaranteeing women rights and evoking equality between the two sexes. The new constitution includes articles evoking equality but this is generally ink on paper. Women are excluded from ruling and taking decisions. I think it is high time to see an equal number of women and men in decision-making positions. I want to see women in leading positions. Indeed, I think that this would improve the situation and help Tunisia make steps on the road of modernity and advancement. Tunisian women had always been a rampart against ignorance, extremism and obscurantism.”

Parvin Ardalan is a leading Iranian women’s rights activist, writer and journalist. She was awarded the Olof Palme Prize in 2007 for her struggle for equal rights for men and women in Iran. Currently she lives in Malmö in Sweden, working with the project Women making history.

”I write and erase, write and erase. How can I write about a view that is not so hopeful?

In the beginning of the new year; when the nationally controlled walls are heightened the governments shifts color from red to yellow, the companies and military complexes devastate and frighten us by turning violence into a legitimate act – there can be no discussion about challenges. We are facing catastrophes.

We should not be fooled by the on-going search for single topics to challenge. I long for solidarity as a strategy and not as tactics.

Could this be our common challenge?”

Biljana Kašić is Feminist theorist from Croatia. co-leader at the Centre for Women’s Studies, Zagreb, Croatia and professor at the University of Zadar.

”Time to radically rethink the question of feminist politics:

Of course, there are many challenges, but I would rather say, many reasons for facing responsibility in order to act against destructive hegemonic normality of various kind, supported by troubling human gestures. The main question is who is this feminist „we“ who witnesses ongoing forms of destruction and whose response is ultimate? For me, as a feminist from the still 'post-East' European region, two issues are in the coming year, a matter of urgency.

First, I think that we should dismantle an illusion of contemporary Europe as a politically and culturally promising project that enables both democracy building and equal opportunities for all its citizens including gender ones. We are becoming aware not only that we are impossed to live in the confinements regulated by particular cultural, sexual and controlling regimes but also that the effects of synergy of gender mainstreaming policies, neo-conservativism and neoliberal capitalist regime have in different way exacerbated social inequality, precarity and frightening models of labour for women from ex-socialist countries as well as those from the South, or EU border. Certainly, in order to resist or counter-act, we need to implement the best of analysis of our Marxist, materialist and postcolonial feminists in this regard.

Second, we have to create a feminist response to the politics of ”immigrant” integration that would include respect and understanding what non-western cultural contexts mean since, as Nicolas de Genova noted, new dynamics of racialization become inextricable from the social productions of migrants’ ’differences’. Also, by taking into account the context of global exploatative capitalism I would like to point out that, above all, we have to reinvent a concept of feminist solidarity in a more heroic and ethically responsive way in order to allow transformative compassion to emerge. As feminists we can’t be in shadow any more. Thus, it is certainly a time to radically rethink the question of feminist politics, I guess.”

Lydia Cacho, investigative journalist, feminist and human rights activist, famous for her struggle against violence and sexual abuse against women and children through CIAM in Cancún, Mexico:

It is crucial that journalists and intellectuals who communicate their ideas, through mainstream media as well as alternative media, discuss the misogynist backlash that has brought a rise in femicide all over the planet, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Intellectual feminists have been warning about this backlash since decades, knowing that male chauvinism would not stay silent before the new laws that generate favorable dynamics for gender equality, since neither governments nor males are working for masculinities that embrace gender equality. Women are now reporting their partners for gender based violence to the courts and as a result a large proportion end up murdered as a method to annihilate their right to a life free from violence.

We have already mapped the violence and identified the victims. 2016 has to be the year when we identify, document and reveal the men who produce, support and instigate to violence against women and children, including the men who traffic their bodies for the sex industry.


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