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Can Women’s Movements Save The World?


March 8, 2021 • 4:30 pm PST

2020 was the year that women emerged indisputably as the world’s most successful leaders, from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s COVID responses to German Chancellor Angela Merkel saving the eurozone and minimizing damage from Brexit. But perhaps more important was the growing success of transnational feminist movements. For more than a decade, networks of women have been sharing resources, media know-how, and strategies across mass movements. Now this transnational work is producing policy breakthroughs and societal shifts, including greater protections for survivors of sexual violence in Guatemala, more reproductive rights and legalized abortion in Chile and Argentina, the decriminalization of homosexuality in India, a crackdown on sexual harassment in South Korea, and the Greta Thunberg-inspired youth movement for stronger climate response everywhere. What is next for these movements, especially in many Middle Eastern and African countries, where progress for women has been incremental? What setbacks have the pandemic and authoritarianism caused for women and social movements?

Pardis Mahdavi, dean of social sciences in Arizona State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Mi-Ai Parrish, managing director of ASU Media Enterprise, visit Zócalo on International Women’s Day to discuss the most promising opportunities right now for transnational women’s movements to save our world.

Introduction by Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America.

Photo: Mi-Ai Parrish (left) and Pardis Mahdavi (right). Collage by Hannah Foote.