Europe has long considered itself the center of the world, as evidenced by most maps. And while the cultures, languages, foods and peoples of Europe are very diverse, they do not compare to the diversity of cultures and peoples in Africa and Asia, or the former diversity of Latin America. Europeans, over the course of history, have inflicted a painful history of imperialism, colonialism, persecution and war on the rest of the world. Today we will meet some European women who are both fighting against imperialism, and for human rights, including the European Women’s Lobby.
Spain: Women in Spain have made great gains in the fight for equality but are still not equal to men in terms of employment. This article explains how the financial crisis and subsequent unemployment in Spain adversely affects women there. Sex trafficking (which has also affected men and the transgender community) is another problem Spanish women are tackling but the issue is a sticky one for Spanish sex workers who participate voluntarily because of the lack of regulations.
Ireland: Abortion is a contentious issue for many but in Ireland with the Catholic Church overseeing the country’s morals, many women are fighting for their lives. The complete lack of access to abortion care in Ireland, even in cases where the pregnant woman’s life is in danger, caused the European Court of Human Rights to rule that the country “violated women’s rights” by denying women abortion services. And with high rates of rape and sexual assault that abortion care is probably needed by many. Choice Ireland is one group that is working to ensure women have the right to exercise their choice to bodily autonomy and integrity.
Italy: Berlusconi. The name of the Italian Prime Minister alone makes many women’s skin crawl but his disregard for women is even more disgusting. Droves of Italian women and men, upwards of 50,000, came out in February to protest the PM and his numerous sex scandals, including one with an underage girl. Groups of women around the world also protested in solidarity, including Paris, Tokyo, and FEMEN in Kiev.
Norway: Domestic violence is Norway’s dirty little secret. Despite the UNDP’s continuous rating as the best country to live in, one in four women in Norway will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. This campaign tackles public awareness in a shocking way. Other groups in Norway protest military violence and discrimination against immigrants. This group encourages women to Be an activist! and provides training for women who want to participate in civil society.
Poland: Like Ireland, Poland’s moral conscience is lead by the patriarchal Catholic Church. Consequently abortion access is severely restricted but The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning works to lighten restrictions. MANIFA is another group that has lead women and men in protests against discriminatory treatment of women in Poland, especially exploitation. The Polish Women’s Lobby also works for women’s equality. All of these groups, and indeed all Polish people, have the memory of Poland’s Solidarity movement icon Anna Walentynowicz to look up to.
Hungary: The Hungarian Women’s Lobby, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Day, rallied against domestic violence, in addition to fighting for women’s equality on a regular basis. Protests recently took place in New York City against the detention of Dr. Agnes Gereb, a Hungarian midwife. Other Hungarian women have protested against restrictive media laws.
Croatia: CROW e-zine is a Croatian publication working to advance women’s rights. Various organizations exist in Croatia to fight for LGBTQAI rights. If you can read Croatian, this page looks interesting and the Center for Education, Counseling and Research page is also available in Croatian.
And here’s a bonus picture of anti-Berlusconi protests in Paris.
- Berlusconi’s woes point up Italian women’s plight (sfgate.com)
- Europe rights courts faults Ireland on abortion ban (reuters.com)
- How Poland is pushing for gender equality in Parliament (liberalconspiracy.org)
- Spain Struggles to Tackle Domestic Violence (nytimes.com)
- Abortion in Europe: A right that isn’t | Editorial (guardian.co.uk)
- European women still face economic, social barriers: EU commissioner – Tehran Times (news.google.com)