As Trump and his administration marches forward, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake, feminists of all genders from across the world are gathering forces, to stand up and be a part of the resistance. We will need all our patience and courage and wit and resilience to see us through at least 4 years of a dark, very dark age.
As thousands of women gathered in Washington DC on Jan 21,22 2017 many of us sent our photos and tweeted in solidarity.
Some of my friends find it odd and asked why I should care so much? After all he is ‘not my president’.
While that may be true, the unfortunate reality is that his actions will have far reaching, long term and devastating impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable—especially poor women in developing countries. In countries like Cambodia, Congo, Kenya, Zambia where in many places even simple contraceptives like condoms need aid funding because their own governments are unable to find the budgets for it.
The organizations working with such women will have to make an impossible choice. Lose the funding and let women and children suffer and die from HIV and TB or retain the funding and let women die from unsafe abortions and unwanted births.
While the Dutch government has stepped up to set up an International Fund to counter the damage done by the reinstating of the Gag Rule, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/25/politics/netherlands-trump-global-gag-rule/ we will need each of our governments and domestic donors and corporates and whoever can give, to give MORE, to give more STRATEGICALLY and to fill up the GAP in such a way that hopefully soon we will all be free of the yoke of US funding aid. We will need to raise awareness that women’s lives matter and that having sex should not translate into a unilateral life long punishment. That patriarchy needs to be demolished !
Then some friends may ask ok, we get it, but this is such an overwhelming issue with the focus of power so far away from me. What can I do?
Some of the work I do involves workshops with young people to build their capacity to advocate for their rights, and sometimes they too feel overwhelmed at the tasks ahead and say “I am just one person and I have very little influence and power.” “I am only a student, how can I oppose the system?” “I am only a nurse, how can I challenge patriarchy in medicine?”
Well, as Dr Martin Luther King said:
So, paradoxically, the easiest thing to do and sometimes the most difficult thing to do is simply to just SPEAK UP.
When any one of us speaks up, it amplifies the voices of all women.
When any one of us opposes a sexist and offensive post on a Whatsapp group, it will make 10 others think twice before they share it on.
When any one of us offers a sensitive hearing to a girl or a woman who has an unwanted pregnancy and help her obtain a safe abortion, we could save a life.
When any one of us posts a strong gender sensitive, safe abortion supportive message on social media, it can get a few people thinking about things differently. When all of us move into public forums, whether offline like the women in Poland on Black Monday, or online like a Tweet-a-thon, we can make all those in power sit up and pay attention.
We can create a critical mass of people who are aware of the issues and understand the gender discrimination and rights violations are issues that are impacting women and girls every day, in every aspect of their lives.
We can ensure that abortion is always spoken of and understood as an integral part of a woman’s life.
Together we can create a movement.
Together we can make a difference.
We can aim to create an equal and just society where women have control over their body and life.
And it all starts with each one of us.