In Iraq, people took to the streets in late 2019 calling for an end to the corrupt, sectarian brand of politics shaped by the 2003 US invasion. The decentralised protests, which succeeded in forcing the prime minister’s resignation, resurged this October to demand free and fair elections.
Groups such as the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) have been a constant presence in Baghdad’s main protest square, insisting that there is no true democracy without women’s rights, and vice versa.
We can learn from them how to ensure that protests are accessible to the greatest number of people. In Baghdad, OWFI set up tents at protest sites to welcome and educate new arrivals to the movement, create spaces for women’s leadership and offer support to protestors – including food, baking soda to counter tear gas, and safe transport to and from protests.
Finally, we can strengthen connections across borders – and galvanise movement allies abroad in support of pro-democracy activism in the US. Protests in other countries can help fortify domestic organising.
In solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in Belarus, for instance, women have organised demonstrations in Germany, Poland, Belgium, Russia and Ukraine.
Likewise, in the aftermath of brutal police killings of Black people in the US, international women’s rights group MADRE brought together hundreds of feminist organisations and human rights defenders from around the world to sign a statement of support, drawing from their common experiences of confronting militarism and white supremacy.
Feminists know that building transnational solidarity is often crucial when trying to counter domestic oppression.
We know that if our democracy is threatened, we can and must turn out in massive numbers to protect the results of the US election in November. To do so, we can learn from feminist movements the world over how to generate the kind of people-powered movement we need to preserve our democracy. We have a feminist blueprint: let’s put it into action.