Self-determination for everyone!

An expert discussion on sexual diversity reproductive justice.

In the future, every human life will be equally important. Each and every person, whatever their origins, class or gender, will have the same legal right and free access to self-determination, and with it bodily autonomy.

In 2048, everyone will have: the right to exercise self-determination in accessing safe pregnancy-related care and abortion, free contraception, diverse sexual education and many different family models.

In 2048, there will no longer be: restrictionson information regarding medical procedures, borders development aid and population policy, which, disguised as climate protection are at the expense of the self-determination of women and queers in the Global South. There will no longer be stigma and social ascriptions regarding who has children and who does not, or what form a family should take.



What is reproductive justice?

Reproductive justice is a concept that was developed in 1994 by black African women in the US, built on experiences, knowledge and analysis from their struggles for social justice and reproductive rights. To be able to get pregnant, people need comprehensive healthcare, sufficient knowledge, money, a legal framework and protection in the form of a roof over their heads and food. Exactly the same applies to people who wish to terminate a pregnancy. The issue of self-determination can, therefore, not be discussed without the requisite socio-political conditions.

Marginalised individuals are particularly susceptible to experiences of discrimination at various different levels. For instance, a white woman in Germany has greater self-determination when it comes to accessing abortion than a black woman with a migration background and uncertain residency status. A trans man who wants to have a child faces significant stigmatisation, from the healthcare system, the legal system and society at large. All in all, there are a whole range of factors making it more difficult for people to decide what happens to their bodies, including economic circumstances, migration and immigration, climate change, gender or disability. First and foremost, reproductive rights are associated with struggles for the right to safe and legal abortion (see pro-choice movements) — an issue which, although important, is dominated by white feminist voices. The concept of reproductive justiceis also based on two other principles: first, the right to choose whether or not to have children, along with the support needed to fulfil that wish, and second, the right to raise children in conditions of your own choosing.

Pioneers in this area are members of the SisterSong Women of ColorReproductive Justice Collective, which was founded in North America in the 1990s. Today, there is a whole raft of different networks and organisations of women and queers of colour working on the issue of reproductive justice. We have taken the perspectives of some of these organisations and combined them in this blog entry.

A future with reproductive justice

In 2048, we will be living in a world full of joy, pleasure, bodily autonomy, integrity and freedom. We have already paved the way for future generations to live a life of dignity in a diverse range of family forms, with or without children. The resources needed for this will be evenly and fairly distributed.

The system of global reproductive justice will be supported by a strong global network of broad queer-feminist alliances, which work together to conduct socio-political analysis and formulate demands. Marginalised groups from the Global South, in particular, are listened to and heard and are an integral component of the work of the movements and the analysis conducted on the international level.

Ethical issues pertaining to reproductive medicine will be debated on the basis of scientific facts and with the participation of all interest groups at round table discussions. Local stakeholders and activists will campaign for legislative changes, lobbying governments and developing proposals for new legislation. These will guarantee reproductive health services. Self-determination will be the new foundation for the bodily autonomy of all people, regardless of skin colour, gender, origins, social status or sexual orientation. The old discriminatory laws, which violated human rights, will have been abolished the world over.

The new legislation will provide legal security for diverse family forms. This will mean that parenting can also be shared among several people. Trans parenting and lone parenting will be legally possible and will have the same legal status as the heteronormative model of the nuclear family. Fostering and adoption procedures will be free from discrimination. The new legislation will also include the right of parents to choose how they live (see chapter on accommodation) and a fairer distribution of (care) work (see chapter on work and social guarantees). Similarly, family reunification and freedom of movement will also be rights that are legally guaranteed for everyone (see chapter on freedom of movement).

The new legal basis and the stronger global network which is campaigning for reproductive justice worldwide will allow us to make our own decisions about what form our bodies, families and communities take. We will be in a position to make these decisions independently, irrespective of financial and existential issues, social norms and restrictive laws. We will have the confidence to ask ourselves on the most intimate level: ‘What do I want for myself and for my body?’. We will feel certain that, whatever our decision, we will receive enough support. We will feel sure that our community will share the burden of care work.

The ongoing process towards a more just and equal society, which involves all members of that society, requires that we understand and address our own prejudices and privileges, and that we eradicate structural discrimination. Racist structures will be largely dismantled and we will be equipped with the tools to counter the racist violence that remains. Spaces of empowerment for people who have experienced discrimination will be shaped by the needs of those affected and will be easy to access and institutionally embedded.

There will be a new cultural understanding which provides space for diversity. Parents will be free to decide with which cultural values and language(s) they wish to raise their children.

In 2048, sexual education will be an integral part of the school curriculum and will demonstrate a diverse range of life realities. It will be free for everyone, accessible for people with disabilities and available in different languages. All learning materials will be critical of power and sensitive to discrimination (see chapter on education).

The entire healthcare system will have been transformed in order to guarantee equality of care for all. The self-managed healthcare centres (formerly hospitals) will facilitate self-determination in medical care, which will be free of charge for all (see chapter on health). With regard to reproductive justice, this will mean the right to exercise self-determination when it comes to abortion and contraception, as well as free and informed access to both, assisted reproduction for everyone, regardless of skin colour, gender, origins, social status or sexual orientation.

Education and training for doctors, and indeed all healthcare personnel, will have been completely restructured. Much more will be taught about reproductive rights and types of contraception as well as abortion. Qualified gynaecologists will regard abortion as being of equal status to all other medical procedures. Unwanted sterilisation and gender reassignment surgery will be prohibited. In order to guarantee good basic provisions for everyone the world over, medical knowledge and research findings will be shared globally.


And how will we achieve this vision?

The right to self-determination and bodily autonomy is still a long way off. But the course for the future is already being set today. Below we outline a few ideas as to how society might change:

The silver lining of the Covid pandemic: Increased visibility of more diverse family forms

The traditional family model of father, mother and child(ren) has been faltering for years, and all the more so during the pandemic. Childcare facilities and schools have repeatedly been forced to close for temporary periods due to recurrent Covid outbreaks. Childcare has completely shifted to the home. Yet parents have had to continue working and somehow, at the same time, shoulder fulltime childcare. This double burden has taken families to the limits of what they can cope with, and beyond. The pandemic has shown that uncles and aunts, grandparents, neighbours, partners and friends also share the care work and are thus part of the family, too. What has become clear is that caring for one another happens through diverse relationships and is certainly not limited to those who have official custody over children. Best friends take a couple of hours to play with the child, the uncle cooks and homework is done at the neighbour’s house. Families with multiple parents, patchwork families and same-sex parents, all arrangements where more than two people take on childcare, are no longer an unusual phenomenon but were in fact the norm for a large proportion of the population, even before the pandemic.

Employees discuss this double burden in their trade unions, making their voices heard. They are taking their demands for recognition of diverse family models into the political arena. On 8 March 2022, international women’s day and a day often chosen by feminist women to stage a strike, LGBTQIA people around the world will take to the streets in protest. Their focus will be on demanding recognition for the diverse family types, which were set out at one of the meetings of the transnational digital movement. In Mexico City alone, 60,000 people will take to the streets despite the pandemic, all of them abiding by social distancing rules. Many other protests are expected to take place in countries around the world. Impressive media accounts of the diverse protest will mean the topic can no longer be ignored.

The protests and the employee associations exert pressure on the government and policymakers, making them aware of the need to adjust their family policy: Their first step will be to make it easier to apply for childcare allowance. As a result it will be straightforward for a parent’s friend or father to apply for childcare benefits — this is the first, very important step towards the redistribution of financial resources. Consequently, little by little over the next five years, reproductive medicine will be transformed: fertility treatment will also be made available to unmarried and queer people as well as those with disabilities and, indeed, to women who have made a conscious decision to have a child without a partner.

A strong global feminist movement

The pandemic has shown us just how important it is to have a globally networked movement. In the next few years, women’s movements around the world will increasingly join forces. Digital network meetings will become easier to participate in despite the fact that some people still have no access to the Internet. In the annual global feminist general assemblies, the voices of young feminists, especially those from the Global South, will take centre stage. In the next decade, the movement will develop a shared positive vision of freedom, self-determination and happiness which recognises the respective contexts. The redistribution of financial resources from development cooperation will strengthen the global networks. From 2040, it will no longer be the rich countries of the Global North which decide how the resources are distributed but rather the recipient countries in the South. Given that the global feminist movement will have grown significantly by then, it will also be in a position to have a major influence on this distribution of resources.

Legal, safe and free abortion

In recent decades, the abortion law has already been liberalised in 50 countries worldwide.[1] This was predominantly the result of massive social pressure and the sheer stamina of feminist movements. These successes, the most recent of which was in 2020 in Argentina, inspired many feminist movements around the world and bolstered their local struggles. Through global networking, activists were able to exchange organisational strategies and campaign knowledge. Doctors and other health professionals who work to overcome existing barriers in the field of reproductive health, such as Doctors for Choice, also support the demands of the movement, calling for abortion to be decriminalised and issuing warnings of a global general strike. With healthcare systems reaching their limits in many countries, governments are keen to ensure that such a strike does not happen. In 2048 there will be very few countries where abortion is still illegal.

The strong voices of feminists are also being heard in the media

These social changes are being supported by diverse feminist voices in social media, on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. Wherever there is access to the Internet, feminists are using social media to communicate their demands to the rest of the world. With the use of videos, diverse life realities are being made increasingly visible. Journalists are picking up these topics and addressing them in their reporting.

Political and legislative restructuring, based on the example of Germany

Today, Germany has a new coalition government comprising the SDP (Social Democrats), Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Greens) and the FDP (Liberals). Many young feminists have been elected to the Bundestag. As a result, the new coalition agreement includes a law based on the right to self-determination, which is to replace the former Transexuals Law. This new law grants inter, trans and nonbinary people with the right to have the gender with which they identify legally recognised without any burdensome bureaucratic or medical requirements. This has already been the case in Argentina since 2012, with many other countries, including Sweden, Norway, Columbia, Southern Australia, Malta and Taiwan, following suit. These developments have increased the pressure on other countries to adjust their own legislation in the next few years.

With the coalition government, there has also been a reform of Germany’s adoption law and law of descent, strengthening the parental rights of lesbian and trans couples. By 2024, further measures and legislative changes will have been implemented.

The above visions and steps originated from a meeting of the following experts:

For a glossary of the terms used in this blog entry, please see: (in German only)


Charlotte Hitzfelder has been working for the independent charity Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, which describes itself as a laboratory for new ideas, since 2015. Charlotte focuses on feminist economic critique and care.

Kate Čabanová also works for Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie on the project “Zukunft für alle – gerecht.ökologisch.machbar” (A future for everyone – just. environmentally sustainable. achievable). Kate is delighted to be able to play an active role in socio-ecological change through her work.

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