Women’s Rights and Right Wing Politics

In recent years, right-wing populism has been spreading across Europe and the United States. The US, France, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands have seen a surge in public support for right-wing parties. Ranging from fascist groups like Golden Dawn in Greece to parties attempting to soften their image to gain more followers like the Front National in France, rightist ideologies have squeezed their way into mainstream politics. What does this represent for women’s rights and reproductive rights? A challenge.

Typically, right-wing parties are politically conservative, support traditional women’s roles and family structures. Most do not speak out for gay rights or women’s rights and do not favor a progressive feminist agenda, which includes equal pay and supporting family planning organizations. Furthermore, right-wing leaders have also spoken out against access to abortion and reproductive rights. Sound familiar?

When it comes to human rights and women’s rights, the US, Canada and many European countries are leading the conversation and promoting activism. With the Trump Administration and prominent right-wing groups gaining more power and influence in Europe, this conversation may become severely limited. Many family planning organizations and health clinics rely on federal funding to remain open and provide health services. Organizations that also provide women with abortions are often targeted and threatened with the withdrawal of funding. Such actions and restrictions do not result in a decreased number of abortions, but result in harming women who need abortions and can only get them outside of a doctor’s office, often in a non-sterile environment with limited access to proper medical tools.

Two of the leading right-wing parties in Europe, both of which are led by women, are the Front National and Alternative for Germany. Both leaders, Marine Le Pen and Frauke Petry, during their campaigns and interviews have spoken out against access to abortion and gay rights. They have also promoted the return to traditional family values, where a nuclear family is the ideal. The Front National in France does not support abortion or progressive women’s rights. Alternative for Germany promotes similar ideas, as well as a strong anti-immigrant sentiment.  Similar ideas have found support in President Trump’s administration and across the United States. What is it exactly that these political party and leaders support? While Trump’s administration and President Trump himself claim to be great supporters of women and say they are supporters of paid maternity leave and maternity benefits, people argue that his claims are not reflected in the laws he passes and the bills he signs. Furthermore, Trump introduced the expanded Global Gag Rule that will cut funding to foreign family planning organizations that rely on US money. This includes many organizations in developing countries, where such organizations are the sole source of birth control and safe abortions.

Although social activism is bright and promising, with many joining women’s rights and human rights movements across the globe, it is important to make sure that these political shifts and the resulting sentiments do not become normalized in our societies. Whether it is through more organized protest, the work of human and women’s rights organizations or liberals running for office, unity and perseverance are more important than ever. 

Donald Trump picture courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Marine Le Pen picture courtesy of Antoine Bayet

Frauke Petry picture courtesy of Harald Bischoff

Open Letter to Commissioner Georgieva

GJC writes open letter to Commissioner Georgieva of the European Commission in response to her September 8, 2014 letter explaining the European Union's position on abortion and the Geneva Conventions.

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European Parliament Members Ask President Obama to End Inhumane Abortion Ban on Aid to War Rape Victims

On March 7, 2013, the European Parliament issued an open letter to President Obama, urging him to lift US abortion restrictions on aid to war rape victims.

The Global Justice Center's August 12th Campaign challenges the denial of life-saving abortions to girls and women who are raped and impregnated in armed conflict, as a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

This letter highlights the fact that the US "no abortion" clause negatively affects how aid from foreign governments can be administered because it is often pooled together. As a result, humanitarian aid organizations on the ground are often unable to provide medically-necessary abortions to girls and women who have endured the horrors of war rape.

Click here to read the letter from the MEPs to President Obama.


Here is the press release issued by the MEPs:

D66 Press Release

Brussels, 7 March 2013

MEPs urge Obama to rescind US abortion ban for women raped in armed conflict

In an open letter to United States President Barack Obama, Members of the European Parliament Working Group on Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS and Development (EPWG) urge the head of state to immediately lift US abortion restrictions on humanitarian aid for girls and women raped and impregnated in armed conflict. "Withholding war raped women the right to safe abortion as a result of US development aid policy is a form of violence against women and girls, priority theme at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York", says Chair of the EPWG, Dutch Liberal Democrat Sophie in 't Veld.

In 't Veld and colleagues have been campaigning for the EU and its Member States to no longer accept the US imposed ban. "Europe must speak up for those women, and urge our American friends and allies to immediately abolish the ban."

The US imposes a "no abortion" clause on its foreign aid, which in practice means that humanitarian organizations that receive US funding neither talk about nor provide safe abortions to victims of war rape. In 't Veld comments: "Rape is being used as a weapon of war, destroying lives, families and communities. Women victims are already punished enough and should not be denied the right to a safe termination of the resulting unwanted pregnancy."

Every year, tens of thousands of girls and women are raped during armed conflicts. More than two-thirds of conflict-related rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are gang rapes, one third of the victims are girls under the age of 18. Given that many girls and women in the DRC are raped in the context of sexual slavery, they incur the greatest risk of pregnancy. In 't Veld: "The fact that United States is the world’s largest provider of humanitarian aid has enabled it to impose its policy on abortion on neutral organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. The US should make a distinction between abortion as a means of family planning and termination of pregnancy as a medical necessity."

Health Promotion Tips for Women

March 6, 2013, 15:30-17:30

At United Nations Church Center, 2nd Floor

Hope Medical Enterprises is a not for profit Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in the United Kingdom, with a focus on helping Iraqi women and children in Iraq and in Europe in all aspects of their daily lives. The discussion will focus on HIV in Iraq and possibilities to support women and children affected. Among the speakers will be Dr. Hamid Al-Bayati, UN Ambassador of Iraq and Janet Benshoof, President of the Global Justice Center. 

European Women Lawyers' Association

August 12, 2011

Letter sent to President Obama by the European Women Lawyers' Association as a part of the GJC's "August 12th Campaign" that he issue an Executive Order lifting US abortion restrictions on humanitarian aid.

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UK Queen's Counsel Letter to President Obama

February 1, 2012

Letter sent to President Obama by a group of UK Queen's Counsel as a part of the GJC's "August 12th Campaign" asking that he issue an Executive Order lifting US abortion restrictions on humanitarian aid.

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UK Parliamentarians' Letter to President Obama

Letter sent to President Obama by a group of UK Parliamentarians' as a part of the GJC's "August 12th Campaign" asking that he issue an Executive Order lifting US abortion restrictions on humanitarian aid.

The letter was signed by: Tom Brake, MP; Baroness Tonge; Lord Ashdown; Ann Coffey, MP; Baroness Ludford, MEP; Jane Ellison, MP; Heidi Alexander, MP; Andrew George, MP; Madeleine Moon, MP; Lord Tope, CBE; Pauline Latham, MP, OBE; Jo Swinson, MP; Rt. Hon. Dame Joan Ruddock, MP; Sir Menzies Campbell, MP, CBE, QC; Baroness Greengross; Debbie Abrahams, MP; Baroness Kinnock of Holy Head; Baroness Walmsley; Baroness Thornton; Kate Green, MP; Sir Bob Russell, MP; Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer; Lord Lester of Herne Hill; Lord Morgan; Baroness Falkner of Margarvine; Lilian Greenwood, MP; Lord Faulkner of Worcester; Lord Richards; Baroness Coussins; Mike Gapes, MP; Jenny Willmott, MP; Lord Redesdale; Baroness Prosser of Battersea; Luciana Berger, MP; Julian Huppert, MP; Rt. Hon. Lord Steel Aikwood; Rt. Hon. Dr. Denis MacShane, MP; John Hemming, MP; Dame Anne Begg, MP; Lord Judd; Lord Puttnam of Queens Gate; Lyn Brown, MP; and Glenda Jackson, MP.

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