Struggle for Women’s Liberation Across the World: A Long Way to Go

womens liberation

Writing `herstory’ has never been an easy process in a male-dominated world where sexism, bigotry racism, casteism and fascism all have been used in an unimaginative way by the free market economy in congruence with the fascists forces to undermine democratic processes. The trio of totalitarian state, free market and increasing fundamentalism is giving new reasons to dissent every day. The resistance at the international as well as local level has been continuing for generations.From the suffrage movementto Bread and roses striketo slut walks to Ni una menos (Spanish for not one woman less) protest by grassroot women in Argentina, women all over the world have resisted patriarchy, defied authority, demanded their basic rights and freedom and challenged male hegemony in different possible ways. The MeToo movement is one of the classic examples where world over women are raising their voices and documenting their protests.

Recently, in the wake of tyrannical, autocratic, patriarchal fascists regimes or totalitarian empires which have emerged world over, past few months have witnessed the rising rage and stiff resistance from common people and specifically from women across the globe. From developed countries to the third world nations, the struggle for liberation continues to demand equality in wages, for reproductive rights, fight against sexual harassment, assaults and rapes to resistance against patriarchy and waging war against fascism in different ways while reclaiming rights. This is despite the fact that across the world, many countries recognize equality and social justice as of significance in their respective constitutions, women are relentlessly and vigorously resisting against misogyny and sexism while demanding safe spaces and life with dignity while mobilizing the sense of solidarity to achieve material effective gender equalitythat may utilize wellbeing approach to create a happy society.

In January 2019, a large number of women protestors gathered on streets and roads to resist presidency of Donald Trump and an attempt to shake of accusation of antisemitism. The other goals are to address violence against women, racial injustice and immigrant rights. This protest is seen as a continuation of the one held in 2017 and spread across different cities. The movement hoped to turn its attention to the presidential race in 2020. The resistance against Trumpismcontinued to express its anger against misogynist, white supremacists, neo Nazi, anti-immigrants approach and pogrom that separated children from their parents at the borders.

Also, in states across USA, Puerto Rico and Canada, thousands of people marched in May 2019 to protest against the recent wave of anti-abortion legislation as #StoptheBans demonstrations where women paving way for reproductive freedom and demanded that decisions regarding women’s bodies should not be made by politicians. Activists claimed that making abortions illegal may risk the lives of women and more specifically it will negatively impact the women of color.

Thousands of women in Spain marched on 8th March 2019, the International women’s day, while raising the slogan “We have 1000 reasons” and “If we stop, the world stops” to demonstrate against slow pace of change toward equality and to combat gender-based discrimination, pay gaps and violence. In Madrid, the March 8 Commission explained the reason of strike is to achieve the ultimate goal of “subverting the world order and the pervading hetero-patriarchal, racist and neoliberal rhetoric’.

Groups of women in Iran celebrated international women’s day by appearing unveiledpublicly in streets of Tehran while calling Iranians to support their defiance to mandatory veiling and calling to end systematic injustice while others demonstrated against oppressive regime and raised voice against injustice and discrimination.In Saudi Arabia, women collectively called for release of women human rights defenders and to establish a monitoring mechanism for human rights violations happening across the country.

In Japan, a campaign is being initiated by women by the name #KuTooand it rejected dress code that is forcing women to wear high heels. The choice of namedepicts a pun on Japanese wordskutsu’ (shoes) and `kutusuu’ (pain)”where questions have been raised as to why women are being forced to wear high heels at work place when they suffer pain, injury and other health issues. The men in charge of Japanese government labour policies though recognize this as a power harassment cited social norms and customs to silence the voices of women.

Besides, women in Japan also protested for not guilty verdicts for sexual assault cases of which two are incest. Rape is not considered as a crime in Japan in case a woman has not resisted `enough’. Outraged by such acquittal, women launched Flower protest demanding lawmakers and judges to recognize flaws in the system that allow men to get away with sexual assault

Sudan’swomen uprising and revolution against two regimes’</a> – against male dominance and against the repressive old regime that curtailed women’s freedom has gathered a huge momentum recently where young <a href=";ts=1560468025&amp;fbclid=IwAR0s0Wfjc0lJ7tNiBBNscpfSZ32re0D4adp_Zcq1Ai2h5o1ILQvHfWWpMmE">women</a> fearlessly protestedand dissentedto not only defy the government authority and power but also confrontsgender ordained strictures of conduct and control’ while demanding freedom. These female protestors are referred as `Kandaka’, a title given to the Nubian queens of ancient Sudan who were empowered women and fought hard for their rights.

On 14 June 2019, thousands of women across Switzerland, a politically and economically stablewealthy nation and a progressive country held a purple protest, stage demonstrations while condemning discrimination.They demand equal pay and more gender equality at work places using several symbols. Switzerland ranks 34th in the world for women’s economic participation and 44th for wage equality. Women’s mobilization in such situation highlighted recognition of care work, violence against women and greater representation of women in positions of power besides equitable family policy to bring long lasting change to balance the power.

In India, several women’s organizations came together to protest when a formerwoman employee complained of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India but her complaint was negated and clean chit was given by an in-house committee to the CJI while violating all the existing norms.  The protest highlighted the institutional bias and systematic failures in the judiciary.

On the other side, in Tamil Nadu, women also protested for basic rights including fresh water when half of the country is reeling in a draught like situation. While the Sabrimala protest took place in Kerala where women stand in solidarity with each other to enter into a temple which had banned entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years, in Orissa and Jharkhand, indigenous tribal women fought for their rights against order of eviction from forest land and against acquisition of their land, forest and water.

These rebellions in multiple ways across the globe are a collective refusal to subjugation and discrimination and play a significant role in the confronting the hegemony of the fascist regimes across the political boundaries where the democratic institutions have been undermined anddistorted while the democratic processes have been rigged and captured by the powerful. These different mutinies show that way that when those who rule makes the mockery of parliamentary processes and democracy, it becomes important that people’s movements should protest in different ways creatively using social media and on the roads and streets. These remonstrations are not only about socio-economic and political equality but these are about larger social and political goals and demand for basic rights and justice.

And most of these movementswhich have been initiated recentlyare using art such as poetry, songs, cartoons, and all other forms of culture folklores creatively to fuel the revolution while highlighting the ground reality to voice the frustration of masses while replacing the hijacked fake digital media which could not raise concerns of common people. Art is seen as an effective medium to connect while stressing the larger commonalities while replacing the feeling of helplessness with hope. In the absence of freedom, art is providing a rich medium to express solidarity to weave a rich tapestry of imagination. In the dark times, art is seen as anexpression of anger, reflection of self and society and of surroundings. These dissents show that the art of story-telling cannot be dictated by those in power, no matter how much they try to do so.

These demonstrations at international level show that the role of women’s movements is difficult to overlook because they have been continuing for long and are being documented well making them harder to ignore. These movements have been sustained and nurtured by those women who are concerned by the wellbeing of society and surroundings. In many situations, social media has made these movements effective and videos of demonstrations are being widely shared and served as a source of news and inspiration for the fellow netizens. The acts of courage and defiance by women are creating a positive impact while erasing the sexist mindset at many places. In the era of free capital and caged labour, where profit is only constant, where discourse is polarized, distorted and diverted on the basis of class, caste, region, religion and various other parameters, the solution lies in relentlessly demanding for justice, rights, equality and freedom while confronting patriarchy, neoliberalism and fascism through different possible means and in many situations, women’s movement across the world are doing this effectively.

The courage and leadership exhibited by women in the dark times portray hope for transformation. In the divided world where majority of male leaders are nonchalantly and indifferently uttering the rhetoric of nationalism, war on terror, mass surveillance, repressing civil liberties, building walls on borders, separating children from their parents, making immigrants illegal, demonizing certain communities, there are empathetic female leaders who are setting examples of creating an alternative feminineworld based on empathy, compassion and kindnesswhile providing a template of hope.This form of women leadership has set an exemplary model while presenting the world’s first wellbeing budget that promised quality life and addressing economic equality while focusing on eliminating poverty, improving mental health, tackling violence, more specifically combating family violence and is built aroundpeople not process.

In short, these fearless revolutionsand uprisings are not only about women’s rights, these are also about confronting a global resurgence of far right, against racism, casteism, neoliberalism and fascism and are demanding for protection of the rights of refugees, migrants and defending the rights of children, minorities, and other marginalized communities, fighting climate emergency, opposing the threat of war in the name of nationalism and terrorism, and are standing for earlier hard won rights and freedoms. These defiant actions trigger a social, political and cultural awakening while challenging the dominant notions and are re-writing a new political language. These protests are about ensuring citizens to have rights, resources, and safety nets in the time when the those in powers refuse to recognize the democratic processes and citizen’s basic rights. These dissents show that dreamers can be killed but dreams do not die. Artists, story-tellers, writers, painters, poets, activists as individuals can be assassinated or castigated but the art, story, idea, thought or imagination could not be distorted or slaughtered. These actions of resistance show that hope, resilience, grit, relentlessness and courage could not be diminished no matter how tyrannical the oppression is or how dominating regressive forces are. Different form of dissent in 2019 world over is perhaps a new beginning to reclaim spaces, regain freedom, repossess dignity, retrieve dreams and imagination to create a better possible another world. The need is to connect these struggles against oppression.

The author is a practicing advocate, researcher and an activist working on the issues of women’s rights, human rights, law and governance for several years. She has written several books, papers and articles. Her forthcoming title is `Domestic Violence Law in India: A Quest for Justice’. Some of her other publications are available at and She may be contacted at [email protected]


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