Women’s movements to watch right now

Women’s movements to watch right now

This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the czar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.


Mexico. Latin America's second most populous country heads into March 8 embroiled in a major #MeToo political scandal, as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador defends a powerful member of his party accused of sexual harrassment and rape. That alone is fueling what are likely to be sizable protests this weekend, but there are two other big issues that have spurred the women of Mexico to action in recent years. The first is a growing crisis of femicide — in Mexico last year, a woman was killed every 8 hours (Spanish). The numbers got worse during the pandemic, when quarantine rules forced many women to stay at home with abusive partners or family members. The second is the growing movement to change Mexico's restrictive abortion laws, which strictly limit the procedure in most places outside the capital city. While public opinion is divided on the issue, feminist leaders in Mexico are looking to the recent success of the abortion-legalization movement in Argentina — part of a broader "Green Tide" of feminist organization and power across Latin America.

Poland. Earlier this year, the Polish government approved a draconian new abortion law — now among the strictest in the EU — that all but eliminates women's right to terminate pregnancies legally. Throughout the pandemic, protest groups led by women have hit the streets in opposition to the measure, which is supported by the ruling rightwing Law and Justice Party, but opposed by a majority of Poles. And while protests have died down since the law was passed, it will be a fresh focus this weekend. More broadly, the debate over abortion has become a totem of the wider cultural and political clash in Poland, which pits a conservative national government with strong ties to the Catholic Church and a largely rural political base against an increasingly liberal opposition in the country's big cities. Polish pro-choice activists face an uphill battle, but again — so too did those in Argentina, where the campaign lasted some 15 years.

India. By now you've doubtless heard about the massive farmers protests roiling New Delhi. (If not, see here.) But you've probably heard less about the sizable role that women are playing in the movement, as participants, speakers, and organizers. It's not hard to see why. Consider that 80 percent of working women in India are employed in the farming sector, and half of India's self-employed farmers are women. That means the government's new agriculture liberalization laws — which farmers worry will put them at the mercy of conglomerates — will have a huge impact on India's hundreds of millions of rural women. This issue has become the single biggest political crisis of otherwise-popular Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure.

Australia. In Australia, a rape allegation made by a former staffer for the ruling Liberal party has dominated the country's politics in recent weeks, causing a stream of women to come forward with stories of sexual harrasment and assault in Australia's Parliament House, including a separate decades-old allegation of rape against the current Attorney General. Brittany Higgins, an alleged victim who has become the face of the growing movement, says she felt silenced by the government after coming forward in 2019, prompting Prime Minister Scott Morrison to call for an inquiry into the parliament's "workplace culture." A slew of female politicians — from parties across the spectrum — have left politics in recent years because of what many say is the pervasive misogyny of Canberra's old boys' club. (You may recall former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's now-famous misogyny speech from parliament in 2012.)

Japan. Around the globe, women have suffered disproportionately from COVID's social and economic aftershocks. In Japan — where biases that disadvantage women are deeply ingrained — that toll has been especially pronounced: about 7,000 Japanese women committed suicide in 2020, a 15 percent annual increase (the number of Japenes men who committed suicide decreased from the previous year). While the subjugation of Japanese women is not new — Japan currently ranks 121st out of 153 countries on the World Economic Forum's annual Gender Gap list — the way that women in particular are responding to the issue is new. More assertive women's right advocates and groups have begun mobilizing to shine light on the conditions that lead to Japanese women's experiences of alienation, helplessness, and depression. One particular focus in recent years has been the push for reforms to the country's archaic rape laws, which critics say place an unreasonably high burden of proof on alleged victims (victims need to prove that they "fought back" during an assault).

Bottom line: International Women's Day can sometimes fall prey to a kind of cultural kitsch, with lazy appeals to "girl power" and cringey hashtags. But for many women around the world, it's a day to celebrate how far societies have come in the fight for equality, and to reflect on how far we still have to go.

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When Zoe Marshall decided to switch careers in her forties and become a fishmonger, she was scared. After leaving her job of 23 years, Zoe was forced to pivot in order to keep her family's home. Despite challenges, she forged ahead, opening Sea-Licious. Accepting Visa payments in her fishmonger shop, this access to commerce helps Zoe provide convenience to her customers and confidence in their transactions. Though she's one of the only women in the fish market each morning, her business and its place in the local community are flourishing with Visa's help.

Learn more about Zoe and her story.

Listen: Can Big Government still rein in Big Tech or has it already lost control? Never before have just a few companies exerted such an outsized influence on humanity. Today's digital space, where we live so much of our daily lives, has increasingly become an area that national governments are unable to control. It may be time to start thinking of these corporations as nation-states in their own rights. Ian Bremmer speaks with Nicholas Thompson, CEO of the Atlantic and former WIRED editor-in-chief, about how to police the digital world.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

In the lead-up to this year's COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, much of the attention has been focused on last summer's wildfires across the US and Europe, and more recently skyrocketing European energy prices. But what about Asia, the world's biggest and most populated region, which also has the highest share of global carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming? Asia has unique climate risks but also many opportunities for solutions, and whatever happens at COP26, Asian countries led by China and India are primed to lead the world in the struggle to make the planet greener before it's too late. In a live discussion moderated by Shari Friedman, Eurasia Group's Managing Director of Climate and Sustainability, global experts discussed these and other topics during the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit sponsored by Suntory.

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We're just days away from COP26, the landmark global climate conference that's been dubbed the last chance to get the climate crisis in check. In the lead-up to the event in Glasgow, dozens of countries have released new ambitions to reduce their future carbon footprints. For years, climate activists and experts have called on governments to introduce carbon pricing schemes – either through taxes or emissions-trading schemes. So who's heeded the warning? We take a look at the top ten carbon emitters' share of global emissions and details about their respective national carbon pricing schemes.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Do cryptocurrencies make it harder to enforce foreign policy sanctions?

Well, that is exactly what the Biden administration worries about. As part of growing concerns of whether unregulated currencies undermine a whole host of policies, sanctions and foreign or trade policy should be a priority area. And just like others who wish to evade tracing of their wealth or transactions, the very states or their sanctioned entities should be assumed to resort to all options to evade restrictions while continuing to do business. So having cryptocurrencies undermining the ability to enforce strategic goals logically raises eyebrows in Washington.

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Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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