Standing in solidarity

Luci Nguyen, Assistant News Editor

As Audre Lorde, a civil rights activist, once said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Throughout the globe, more countries have been pushing for greater gender equality. One such country is China. In China, an announcement was made in December that the government is set to revise its laws overseeing women’s rights in the coming months. For the first time in decades, these law revisions will cover sexual harassment, affirm prohibitions on workplace discrimination and place a ban on sexual abuse. However, with these promises, many women are skeptical of these claims. Although it may seem like a triumph for feminist activists in China, some feel there is still much work to be done. The Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law has only been revised once in 2005 and was enacted almost three decades ago. According to the official newspaper of China’s Supreme Court, one particular policy added this year is urging women to have more children due to a demographic crisis, tying a new three-child policy to the revision. Even with this recent support from the Chinese government, it does not hide from the fact that they have detained feminist activists and dissolved sexual harassment lawsuits. Most notably, Peng Shuai, a star tennis player, opened up on Weibo, mentioning that an influential Chinese leader, Zhang Gaoli, pressured her to have sex and later disappeared from public life for weeks. Her post was taken down within minutes. Searches of her name and the word “tennis” were blocked online, reflecting the censorship the Chinese government has taken part in. “I know that for someone of your eminence, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, you’ve said that you’re not afraid,” Ms. Peng wrote in her post, “but even if it’s just me, like an egg hitting a rock, or a moth to the flame, courting self-destruction, I’ll tell the truth about you.” Other countries have been working towards more gender equality as well, including Jordan. In Jordan’s capital of Amman, Parliament members ran into physical altercations during a debate that discussed change to the nation’s constitution. The changes in question were to modify the constitution so it addresses Jordanian citizens in both the masculine and feminine tense. Although women have rights such as healthcare and education, they are not afforded the same rights when it comes to nationality and citizenship compared to men. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, new guidelines have been issued by the Taliban that prevents Afghani women from traveling distances greater than forty-five miles from their residence without being accompanied by a close male relative. These guidelines are following decrees created in November, which demanded that television stations end broadcasting programs that have female actors. According to the Human Rights Watch, as of now, the Taliban has prohibited girls from receiving an education that is higher than primary school. Women are also not allowed to work after the Taliban took full control of Afghanistan. These restrictions, however, have not stopped women from participating in protests, with around 30 women going to the streets of Kabul in January. The push for women’s rights is something that some say needs to be looked at with more urgency. Junior Allie McPherson gives her insight on this issue. “All of us could probably agree that our mothers were the ones who raised us or our first memory. Our mothers and mothers across the world need to be heard, because, honestly, that is the least we can do. We should be straining to hear all the words they say,” McPherson said. To learn more about the situations in these countries, follow local and national news stations online.