All people in Canada have a human right to safe, legal, affordable, and accessible abortion care. While the federal government and many provincial governments declared abortion an essential service at the start of the pandemic, little has been done by governments to ensure that people in Canada continue to be able to access the SRH services, including abortion care, that they need. In the face of mounting anti-abortion tactics, it is critical that governments prioritize dismantling the barriers to SRH services and abortion care.
In this context, also in Latin America, neoliberal, conservative and anti-gender actors, within and outside the state, were very active in attacking policies and legislation that could advance sexual rights and rights to equality, including gender equality, to create barriers in their implementation or to establish measures of state control and authoritarianism. Although it is important to note that the ferocity of such measures was not as much as in Latin America as in Eastern European countries, Egypt or Russia, it is nevertheless true that these groups found new arguments during the pandemic to add to those they already used. They took advantage of measures adopted by governments to disseminate their perspectives in different ways; from demonstrations to social networks and other virtual media, their speeches included allusions to different conspiracy theories, invocations to restrict rights and distributed false information, all combined to confuse audiences.
Initially, in our quest to delve into the subject matter of wellbeing and wellness, we mistakenly used the two words interchangeably. Now, we only use the term wellbeing. This is because ‘wellbeing’ refers to the more holistic aspect of one’s life rather than just the physical health, which is what ‘wellness’ tends to encompass. It was important for us to recognise and appreciate that people’s welfare is affected by so much more than physical health, so many intangible factors like racism, sexism, patriarchy and capitalism that disproportionately affect LBQ women, activists and human rights defenders mobilising on the continent. Our hope is that these groups of people are holistically well.
Soon after the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020, organisations around the world began reporting an increase in gender-based and domestic violence, in what they called a ‘shadow pandemic’. At the same time, another phenomenon started to take shape, that of the ‘citizen-informant’, a term for people who policed other people who were not practicing social distancing. The tendencies for violence and surveillance contained in these two phenomena came together and accentuated each other in a remarkable way in Egypt in April 2020, when TikTok became popular, in what is referred to as the case of women TikTokers in this brief. With the increasing popularity of the TikTok application in Egypt, online bullying multiplied against women and girls, for videotaping their social isolation. By the end of 2020, a 15-second lip sync had become a nightmare.
The smear campaign against women TikTokers highlights a classist perception of and entitlement to lower-class and lower-middle-class women’s bodies.
The revolution is feminist in its postulates as well and the key demand is the dismissal of the government. However the Women’s Strike, which organised the protests, formulated five key areas for change; these are: full spectrum of access to SRHR, a secular state, implementation of the Istanbul Convention, improvement of the material conditions of women and making Poland an inclusive and non-discriminating country.