girard5_icolas Villalobospicture alliance via Getty Images_abortion activist Nicolas Villalobos/picture alliance via Getty Images

What’s at Stake for Women’s Rights in 2020?

Achieving social change to protect marginalized groups is never an easy process of quick victories over weak opposition. But, as feminists have proved time and again, with sustained commitment, changes that once seemed impossible can later seem inevitable.

NEW YORK – From US Republicans’ effort to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a woman’s right to an abortion, to Poland’s increased restrictions on access to emergency contraception, to Brazil’s clampdown on sexual health education, this is a difficult time for women. But if the global feminist movement has proved anything over the years, it is that it can overcome powerful resistance to defend the rights of marginalized groups. In 2020, it will do so again.

The challenge is formidable. An inevitable corollary of the authoritarianism, ethno-nationalism, and xenophobia embraced by political leaders in many countries – in particular, Brazil, Hungary, India, Turkey, and the United States – is the perpetuation of regressive gender norms.

According to “strongman” leaders like Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, and India’s Narendra Modi, women are born to be wives and mothers; immigrants and racial, religious, and ethnic minorities are dangerous and inferior; and LGBTQI+ persons deserve ostracism, detention, or even death. These leaders have emboldened people who share their views to engage in discrimination and violent attacks against racial or other minorities, migrants, women, and other marginalized groups.

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