Intersectional Women’s Day 2018

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, releases a statement on the occasion of International Women's Day.

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International Women’s Day
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The path towards achieving gender equality and the protection of human rights for all people, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, is long and difficult. While we have made enormous gains in the past decade, a rise of opposition globally stands to stem progress.

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Around the world fundamental freedoms and civil liberties are being threatened by anti-democratic, populist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and right-wing politics and actors. Governments have taken advantage of weakened systems of checks and balances and are implementing discriminatory laws and policies that undermine basic human rights principles. From the creation of anti-LGBTIQ task forces in Indonesia, to the threat of deregistering LGBTIQ-affiliated organizations in Tanzania, and the all-out ban on LGBTIQ events in Ankara, Turkey, crackdowns and violations against lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) women and people are unfolding, and in many cases are increasing.

It is not only governments that are pushing policies rooted in intolerance. Conservative fundamentalist groups and anti-rights actors are working tirelessly to erode the rights of LBTI women and people, not only at the national level but on international stages. Organizations such as C-Fam (the Center for Family and Human Rights) and the World Congress of Families have stepped up efforts to push forward their hateful agenda at the United Nations (UN). They are calculated, well-funded, and are emboldened by the rise of authoritarian and populist politicians worldwide.

One of the loudest leaders of the backlash is Donald Trump. In one year, Trump has defunded UN agencies which provide life-saving services to people in need, rolled back protections for transgender students, expanded the reach of the global gag rule, putting the life of women around the world in danger, and pushed forward xenophobic, anti-immigrant policies, which stand to disenfranchise countless people, including LBTI women and people who face violence and persecution. Trump has created a political platform which promotes division and subjugation, impacting LBTI women and people both in the US and all around the world as a consequence.

However, as the tide of conservatism is growing, so too is the power and voice of global feminist movements. From women’s marches in all corners of the world, to the proliferation and impact of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, women are challenging patriarchy, misogyny, and systems of oppression, violence, and discrimination.

With the rise of feminist movements in the U.S and globally, we see a call for what feminism really means: equality, no matter what your gender or sexual orientation. Today, gender is ever expanding, beyond the binary often imagined. No woman has full equality if her trans sisters in Indonesia do not have rights; if her trans siblings in the US are publicly harassed and forced to use a women’s restroom; if her lesbian sisters anywhere are forced to undergo conversion therapy. As long as we are calling out violence and misogyny, we need to remember that the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements not only apply to cisgender women, but to people of all gender identities and expressions. Equality for everyone must truly be for everyone.

In order to dismantle the multi-layered systems of oppression faced by LBTI and all women, it is imperative that we work intersectionally and invest in movements that raise the voices and demands of those most marginalised. This International Women’s Day, we must commit to continue to move forward collectively and consciously, if we are to overcome growing opposition and move towards greater equalities.

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