Women’s rights and feminist movements, in general, are inherently political battles that challenge social and cultural norms deeply rooted in human society. Feminists aim at the mechanisms of patriarchal power and domination, and this purpose makes feminist issues all the more sensitive in cultures where religious fundamentalism and anti-gender and anti-LGBTQIA+ conservatism are on the rise.
VIOLENCE HAS BECOME TRIVIAL.
Feminists have to face up to a society that is still riddled with misogynistic and sexist attitudes. A recent OECD report revealed that a third of women aged 15-49 years consider a husband to be justified in hitting or beating his wife for certain reasons, i.e., if his wife burns the food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, etc. Gender-based violence is widely tolerated in our societies and often in the home, making perpetrators feel that they can go unpunished. As a result, the normalization and internalization of violence undermine the fight against it, while society mocks feminist associations for their work.
THE FAILURE TO ENFORCE INTERNATIONAL NORMS AND THE ABSENCE OF LEGISLATION
Over the past three decades, feminist organizations have contributed to enacting many far-reaching international laws and conventions in favor of women’s rights. Yet, these norms have not been sufficiently reflected in national legislation or enforced in practice. Such is the case with the Maputo Protocol in Africa, adopted on July 11, 2003, which sets out a range of fundamental rights to fight GBV and discrimination. Most African countries (except Morocco, Egypt, and Botswana) signed the Maputo Protocol, pledging to enact specific related policies and laws. In some countries (e.g., Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, and Tunisia), such laws may exist but are either not enforced or only marginally so. In other cases, as in Mauritania, such laws are non-existent because conservative movements often block the legislative process. Where they do exist, these laws are frequently misunderstood and poorly embraced by the local population.
FEMINISTS ARE IN DANGER
Identifying as a feminist is hazardous in many countries. Feminist activists are demonized and threatened for challenging the rules. Many feminists within the organizations supported by Feminists in Action have received death threats, have had to flee for safety, or are facing cyber-bullying on social media. Laws such as banning access to contraception for non-married women, the criminalization of abortion, and the criminalization of the LGBTQIA+ community are driving feminist organizations into clandestinity and exposing them to legal reprisal. We believe that supporting these organizations is vital to reaching our goals in promoting and defending the rights of women and minorities, as agreed by France and the international community.
This unfavorable work environment for feminist advocacy calls for support and funding, with one clear priority: strengthening grassroots organizations and the entire ecosystem.
Would you like to see the current funding situation for feminist organizations worldwide? Read this article!