International Women's Day 2019

International Women’s Day has been celebrated for nearly 90 years and has become a focal point in the global movement for women’s rights. This day allows us to reflect on how far we have come in our fight for gender equality, but also on how far we have yet to go.

LBTIQ+ women around the world face intersecting forms of discrimination, be they bi, lesbian/gay, trans, or intersex. Although we have made progress, LBTIQ+ women still face a disproportionate amount of gender-based violence, legal discrimination, and social inequality all around the world.

OutRight's Executive Director, Jessica Stern's op-ed in Openly News, "Leaving no queer woman behind on International Women’s Day" explains that "International Women’s Day should include all women – whether lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex or queer."

Here are just a few of the many incredible women LBTIQ+ activists and allies, working tirelessly around the world, paving the way to true equality.

Joey Joleen Mataele is from Tonga, a Polynesian archipelago with a population of 100 thousand people. Joleen is a pioneer for trans women’s rights in Tonga and has spearheaded cultural and political change over the past 20 years. Joleen co-founded the Tonga Leitis Association. You can learn more about Joleen through the documentary “Leitis in Waiting”.

Kitty Anderson is an intersex activist from Iceland, a Nordic Island country in the North Atlantic. She has spent her career advocating for the autonomy of intersex people. She is the co-chair of OII Europe, the European-wide intersex NGO. Through her campaigning, the European Parliament has now passed a historic intersex rights solution just last month.

Roxane Gay (one “n”) Gay is a Haitian American bisexual feminist writer, professor, and editor. She has written several New York Times best-selling books such as “Bad Feminist”, “An Untamed State”, “Difficult Women”, and “Hunger”. Roxane Gay is an unparalleled feminist voice for our generation. She approaches important topics such as fatphobia, sexual assault, and equality with honesty and clarity. Her work will fuel feminist discourse for decades to come.

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera is considered to be a founding mother of the Ugandan LGBT civil rights Movement. She created one of the first LGBTIQ+ rights organization, Freedom & Roam Uganda (FARUG), in Uganda. Kasha ran the organization for 10 years, stepping down in 2013. In 2014, Kasha created Kuchu Times, an LGBT news outlet, followed by “Bombastic,” Uganda's first LGBT magazine, in 2015.

Abhina Aher is hijra, a term used in India for the community of transgender, non-binary, gender queer and intersex people. Abhina has worked for the empowerment of transgender people through her activism over the past 20 years. She founded Dancing Queens, a dancing group of transgender people. She is the associate director of sexuality and gender rights for India HIV/AIDs. You can learn more about Abhina through her TedX talk.

Dr Lydia Foy is a champion of trans rights in Ireland. She started a legal battle in the early 90s to have her birth certificate reflect her gender which lasted over 20 years. In 2007 the Irish high court found that portions of the law of Ireland were incompatible with the European Convention on human rights, which would seem like a victory. However, by 2013, the law remained steadfast and Dr Foy began new legal proceedings. These proceedings resulted in the Gender Recognition Act, whereby trans people can change their gender markers; such legislation exists in just three other countries.

Subha Wijesiriwardena is a queer feminist activist and writer from Colombo, Sri Lanka. She works with Sri Lanka’s leading feminist organization, Women and Media Collective. She also co-founded a collective for queer feminist young people. Subha writes on issues facing women around the world, such as, reproductive health, violence, and equality.

Njeri Gateru is a queer feminist human rights lawyer working on the protection of minorities in Kenya. This focus includes asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, and LGBTIQ communities. She is the executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Currently, she is working with a coalition who are fighting for the repeal of colonial-era Penal Codes 162 and 165, effectively resulting in the decriminalization of gay sex in Kenya. Kenya’s High Court was expected to rule on this just last week but instead has postponed the decision until May 24th. Along with Kenyans, the global LGBTIQ movement anxiously awaits the ruling.

On social media, more short profiles activists throughout the days of LBTIQ activists including our UN religion fellows will be shared. We invite you to follow us and share with us activists that are inspiring you this International Women’s Day.

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