Progressive values are up against a transnational network of anti-rights and conservative forces and a financial infrastructure that contribute billions of dollars in funding to spread vitriolic narratives, promote regressive legislation, and attack our rights to control our own bodies. We find examples on every continent: the collapse of Roe v Wade in the US, the near total ban on safe abortions in Poland, the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda, the erasure of women from public life in Afghanistan.
These attacks are designed to rip away hard-won rights, and to divide our communities by attacking selectively depending on race, caste, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. They build strength in our division. So too do they exaggerate such vitriolic narratives to divert attention from issues that can unite humanity against illiberal forces—issues like climate change, the cost of living crisis and soaring inequality.
They are dominating conversations in national and international forums, and winning elections with their divisive rhetoric. It is an explosive moment in history. As Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Arundhati Roy warned in a speech earlier this year: “Democracy is being systematically disassembled. So much so that in many countries, little more than the rituals remain.”
Which is why partnerships are key for uniting our diverse movements against their hatred. Bold feminist movements and leaders are already at the forefront of these struggles to protect democratic values.
The Open Society Foundations and IPPF partnerships, among others, counter anti-rights movements and supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights by helping LGBTQI persons to become resilient against anti-democratic powers. As the criminalization of sexuality and gender spreads internationally—we call for expanded solidarity and aligned action with multi-stakeholders. Many of us see ourselves across these arbitrary divides, and we recognize we must support one another and not remain trapped in an endless culture war with those who would tear down democracies, communities, and people to maintain patriarchal dominance. They’re reverting to the lowest tactics to criminalize and obliterate—and we must do more.
Sexual and reproductive justice is not only the way to contain “macho politics” and its attack on women’s bodies, it is also the path to systematically ensure a future where communities and those who have been historically marginalized can unite and thrive in democratically just societies.
Banner illustration by Yessiow Nur Mulianawati for The Greats x IPPF