Women World Wide: November 2023

November 18, 2023

by Artemis

International Safe Abortion Day has been observed officially on Sept. 28 since 1990 in Latin American countries and since 2011 worldwide. On Sept. 30 about 150 activists in the small European state of Andorra demonstrated in solidarity with Vanessa Mendoza Cortes, founder of l’associació Stop violències (Stop Violence Association), which fights violence against women and is for abortion rights. In 2019, the Andorran President sued Cortes for “defamation” for denouncing Andorra’s complete abortion ban during a session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Feminists from Andorra, Ireland, South Catalonia, Latin America and French trade unions sang the Women’s Anthem, symbolically throwing patriarchy, the Church, capitalism, racism, and homophobia into a fire. Signs read “Long Live the Feminist Struggle,” “If the Pope were a Woman, Abortion would be Legalized,” “Church, Keep Your Hands off our Ovaries,” “Separation of Church and State.” and “Macron and [Andorran Prime Minister] Espot, Resign!”


In October, in Poland, women and young people led the highest voter turnout in the history of the Third Republic of Poland, with 73.38% of eligible citizens voting. Both, especially in cities, are more inclined to vote for democratic candidates. The election overthrew the eight-year rule of the reactionary Law and Order Party (PiS) and the United Right (ZP) political alliance centered on it. In recent years, there have been mass protests against the tightening of already restrictive laws against abortion, now almost completely banned. Last year, the Health Minister created a “pregnancy registry” by expanding the types of medical information about patients the government could store on a central database.


In November, “Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK, 1970–1990,” the first major art museum show covering the feminist art movement, opened at the Tate Britain in London. Work from over 100 artists and collectives covers topics including equal pay, financial independence, pregnancy, menstruation taboos, commercialization of sexuality, the goddess movement, and feeling imprisoned by domesticity. Curator Linsey Young states: “It starts with a lot of disparate women getting angry, talking back and rising up. Most female artists had no expectation art institutions would pay attention, so they just had to make it happen in a different way.” It includes experimental media like video, performance, yarn sculptures, and “agitprop” (agitation propaganda) posters. A network of women mailed each other homemade “postal art.” Photographers documented working class women’s lives, miners’ strikes, anti-racism protests, and the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. Also represented are women artists from the 1980s British Black Arts movement and musicians from pioneering music scenes.


In 1998, El Salvador criminalized all abortion, amending its constitution to claim life begins at conception. Over 180 women were convicted of serious crimes as the result of medical emergencies including miscarriage and stillbirth. Many were wrongly convicted of abortion, others like Teodora Vásquez were wrongly accused of infanticide and convicted of aggravated homicide. U.S. feminists studying the impact of El Salvador’s anti-abortion laws exposed the use of scientifically discredited methods like the lung float test as false evidence of babies born alive then killed. Impoverished women are disproportionately convicted, and U.S. women are now at risk of similar prosecutions. Vásquez’ sentence was commuted due to pressure from activists and the U.N. She created Mujeres Libres (Free Women) El Salvador for women who had served sentences for similar convictions and face job discrimination and social shunning. They attend and lead weekly counselling sessions and workshops on job skills, play writing, and women’s rights, planning also to educate the public about the situation.

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