Women’s Rights Movements: Strong but Embattled


By Janet Walsh

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A painted wall outside a women’s organization in Nicaragua names and shames, a kind of brick-and-mortar #MeToo. Inscriptions on the wall in front of the Colectivo de Mujeres de Matagalpa tell the stories of violence against women: names of the accused, descriptions of attacks, and more. In a country with high levels of gender-based violence, civil society repression, and decreasing funding for women’s groups, this is risky.

But the Nicaraguan organization is brave. The work of its women members illustrates the local action at the heart of global movements for women’s rights, gender equality, and freedom from violence. These movements are strong, but embattled.

Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we look back at the ups and downs of 2017.

The Women’s Marches on all continents spurred some five million people to take to the street to demand equality and freedom from violence. Millions posted #MeToo stories of sexual harassment and abuse, resulting in high-profile apologies, resignations, and calls for legislative reform. Activists and movements united to fight intersecting forms of discrimination. From stalwart feminist leaders to newly galvanized activists, people stormed the streets and halls of power to demand change.

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