Defenders of Justice
Fighting racism and patriarchy in Brazil
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About the Episode
WATCH NOW! Can gender justice movements in Brazil fight against nationalism, racism, and patriarchy to save women's lives?
Brazilian law permits abortion only in cases of rape and danger to the woman’s life. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are severely limited, and there are deep racial prejudices against Black Brazilians. Civil society is also under threat, and activists in Brazil remain on high alert after the murder of prominent Black Brazilian activist Marielle Franco in March 2018.
In “Defenders of Justice,” we meet Lucia Xavier, who is part of a movement of powerful women activists who are reframing reproductive rights as an issue of women’s rights and racial justice, as she and others work to address security threats against activists fighting for reproductive rights. We also meet Daniele Duarte, an Afro-Brazilian lesbian activist who participates in protests and marches against the rise of the extremist president Jair Bolsonaro. Lucia, Daniele, and others are part of a vibrant and intersectional feminist movement in Brazil, mobilizing what some are calling a “Feminist Spring” in Brazil as the Supreme Court considers decriminalizing abortion.
Meet the Activists: Lucia Xavier and Daniele Duarte
Lucia Maria Xavier de Castro is a Brazilian social worker and human rights activist. She has dedicated her life to protecting human rights and eradicating patriarchal racism and all forms of discrimination. She is the Founder and Coordinator of CRIOLA, a black women's organization in Rio de Janeiro. At CRIOLA, she has dedicated herself to training, mobilizing, and advocating for the human rights of black women. She is a member of the Black Women Towards a 50-50 Planet in 2030 with UN Women.
Daniele Duarte is an Afro-Brazilian lesbian activist who works to guarantee human rights for all. She is part of CRIOLA in Brazil, an Afro-Brazilian women-led group that works with Black Brazilian women and girls in the poorest parts of Rio de Janeiro. Daniele is a social worker and part of the organization Global Justice, working in the area of women human rights defenders.
Spotlight on the issue
Gender justice activists are working to advance abortion rights and support women human rights defenders—not just in Brazil but around the world. Meet some of Global Fund for Women’s grassroots grantee partners who are leaders in the movement.
"The security of human rights defenders is fundamental because it saves lives and allows the movements they are involved into progress."
Consorcio Oaxaca is a feminist organization that promotes the respect and exercise of women’s human rights and gender equality. They work to influence legislation and public policy and raise awareness among women about their rights. Consorcio Oaxaca also offers integrated services for women human rights defenders, focusing on self-care, collective care, and security, and serves as a rare and valuable safe space for those defending human rights.
Women's Fund in Georgia
"Social transformation is fundamental because we want women, girls, and transgender people to live in a safe, equal, and free environment."
Women’s Fund in Georgia is a grant-making organization supporting women’s rights groups and individual activists for social change with financial resources, capacity building, and promoting the culture of feminist philanthropy. Women’s Fund in Georgia also supports women human rights defenders, whose work and commitment are not acknowledged or valued in Georgia. The group established the annual Kato Mikeladze Award, given on November 29, Women Human Rights Defenders’ day, to recognize the significant work of defenders.
Vision Spring Initiative
"Movement building is fundamental because collectively women’s voices can transform the world."
Vision Spring Initiatives fights for gender justice in Nigeria. Part of their work includes mentoring girls and creating “circles of learning” to help enable young people to find their voices. Vision Springs Initiative launched the #mybodymyright campaign, led by young people, holding government stakeholders accountable,and demanding comprehensive sexuality education and services.
Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH)
"Women’s empowerment is fundamental because when a woman decides, she thrives."
Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) protects women and girls from abuse and exploitation in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa. Their work challenges stigma and discrimination towards abortion and contraception choices. TICAH offers community hotlines, creates networks to connect women and girls with organizations to meet their specific needs, works on community organizing, and works to demonstrate the connection between good contraception choices and women’s power.
The A Project
"Reproductive justice is fundamental because class, race, borders, fascists, misogynists, and transphobes affect our bodies just as directly as doctors do, and with the same sharpness of their scalpels.”
The A Project works on reproductive rights with women and trans* people from different socioeconomic and national backgrounds in Lebanon. Through their sexuality hotline, trained volunteers provide counseling and support to callers about issues including sexuality, gender, and reproductive health. The A Project also works on expanding the conversation around sexual and reproductive health and rights through training, retreats, solidarity groups, blogs, podcasts, and research.
Dalit Women Rights Forum
“A discrimination-free society is fundamental because children should live a dignified life with their rights secured.”
Dalit Women Rights Forum (DWRF) works for the protection and promotion of human rights, particularly the rights of Dalit women (considered as “impure” and “untouchable”in Nepal) and other marginalized women, by helping them to get justice for caste-and gender-based-discrimination. The group has launched the “Women Human Rights Defenders Empowerment Project,” which aims to protect and promote women human rights defenders, who are at high risk in Far West Nepal.
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