This week our Social Impact Briefing covers the fight for Trans rights, the post-Brexit battle to keep Britain’s food safe and the UN’s appeal to combat crisis in the Sahel.
| Trans rights are human rights
On Saturday, thousands of protesters dressed in white, gathered outside of the Brooklyn Museum to stand in solidarity with the black trans community. This protest came shortly after the death of two black trans women, Riah Milton, of Ohio, and Dominique “Remmie” Fells’, of Philadelphia, who were both brutally murdered and misgendered by the police. Their deaths serve as a stark reminder that violence disproportionately affects transgender people, and even more so trans women of colour.
Their deaths have occurred in an increasingly hostile environment for the trans community, as Donald Trump ruled that the federal government will no longer protect transgender patients against discrimination in the health care sector.
But there is some good news – as of today, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, handing the LGBT+ community a remarkable win despite the recent series of injustices.
You can support the families of Dominique and Riah as they raise funds to pay for their funeral costs. You can also help by supporting The Okra Project which seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people.
In the UK, measures drawn up by Theresa May’s government to allow transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificate without a medical diagnosis have been abandoned by the current government, according to a leak attained by the Sunday Times. Attaining a medical diagnosis is a time-consuming and costly process, and can be mentally and physically exhausting, so the policy change is seen by many as a step back in the fight for trans rights.
| The battle to keep our food safe post-Brexit
It may seem like Brexit happened years ago, but the tricky part – negotiating trade deals with the EU and other countries – remains. A major area of the economy up for negotiation is food, which brings the risk of dangerous pesticides entering our supply chains if potential trading partners have their way.
British pesticide and insecticide regulation standards are some of the best in the world, and many pesticides commonly used abroad are banned in the UK, such as chlorpyrifos. Used by farmers in the US and India, chlorpyrifos is banned here due to evidence that it harms cognitive development of foetuses and young children. Highly toxic neonicotinoids, banned in the UK, have caused huge declines in bee populations and are permitted in Australia, the US and India.
It looks likely, however, that imminent deals with the aforementioned countries – seen as crucial to ensure we prosper outside of the EU – will force down the quality of our food products, leaving the British public and countryside vulnerable to dangerous chemicals, and our farmers at risk of being undercut by cheaper products from abroad.
The campaign group Pesticide Action Network has released an in-depth report, Toxic Trade, into the potential dangers of weakening our pesticide standards, and are calling on the government to uphold the integrity of our food, environmental and human health standards. You can have your say by writing to your local MP in support of their campaign.
| UN appeal to combat crisis in the Sahel
The United Nations’s Refugee agency (UNHCR) has launched an emergency appeal for $186 million to combat the deteriorating refugee and displacement crisis in the Sahel region of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger. According to the UNHCR report released today, there are over three million people of concern in the region due to intense and largely indiscriminate violence against civilian populations by a number of armed actors.
The upturn in violence in the Sahel over the last decade stems from a 2012 separatist rebellion in northern Mali that was commandeered by a range of armed groups, ranging from Salafi-jihadist groups to political militias. Since 2018, the violence has intensified, spilling into neighbouring Burkina Faso and across the Sahel, into Niger and Chad.
At present, over 1.5 million people have been displaced in the five countries as a result of the violence, rising from just over 600,000 in May 2019. Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said: “The emergency is here, in the Sahel, where people are suffering, are being killed, women are being raped, children cannot go to school. The Sahel is the place where we must intervene before this crisis becomes unmanageable.”
With Covid-19 starting to affect areas hosting refugees and the countries more generally, combined with the beginning of the agricultural lean season, the level of emergency in the Sahel is impossible to overstate.
| Spotlight on…
Sometimes known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day”, Juneteenth (19th June) is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States and has been celebrated by African-Americans since the early 1800s. In the midst of some of the largest protests the US has ever seen, this year’s celebration of Juneteenth feels momentous given the sweeping changes already enacted across the US.