It’s easy to despair at the state of things, especially with a battle that has gone on as long as the fight for gender equality. But while there is still much progress to be made, it’s important to look back at all that we’ve changed. With International Women’s Day this week, it’s the perfect time to remind ourselves what has been achieved over the last year.
In the USA, the women’s soccer team won their fourth world cup while the men’s team failed to qualify. This brought light to the unequal pay between the men and women’s team, as it debunked many of the excuses that had previously been used to justify paying women less in the sport: they aren’t as successful, they don’t bring in the same crowds, they are less profitable. Most inspiring of all, the women of the team are actually taking legal action to fight unequal pay, demanding reparations.
In Northern Ireland, history was made in October when abortion was decriminalised and same sex marriage was made legal. Until now, the women of Northern Ireland who had abortions could face up to life in prison, now they can no longer be prosecuted. Women are not only safe from prison, they will also no longer have to decide between potentially dangerous online abortion pills or travelling long distances to other countries where abortion is legal. More than that it sends a message that women have a right to choose what they do with their own bodies, a concept that shockingly we still battle for every day.
In Latin America, women have started a global movement. A protest song, which was first performed in Chile, speaks out about the injustice of rape culture, victim blaming and a broken system that doesn’t properly address the problem. These women have made themselves heard:
Celebrities have been using their platforms for good as well. Joaquin Phoenix blew up on the internet for his speech at the Oscars on injustice. Natalie Portman too made a statement by wearing an outfit embroidered with the names of female directors who she felt had been overlooked because of their gender.
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Honoring these remarkable women last night who were not recognized for their incredible work: @thumbelulu, #GretaGerwig, @lorenescafaria, @mariellestilesheller, @matidiop, @msmelina, @alma.harel, and @celine_sciamma. Hair @adamcampbellhair Makeup @lisastoreymakeup Jewelry @dior @cartier Styling #ryanhastings
And in Saudi Arabia, Yasmin Al Maimani became the first ever female commercial pilot, breaking down every barrier in her way to achieve her dream. This comes just a year after women became able to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, a long fought battle for many women of the country. While one female pilot is by no means proof of gender equality, it does show a rising trend towards women having more rights, and that is something to be celebrated.
These are just a few of the differences that have been made for and by women in the last year. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but it gives a taste of some of the real tangible results that have come about as a result of the actions of real people campaigning for change. We can all learn something from these people, who take the time to demand equality.
By Kahina Bouhassane
Did we miss something? Comment below and let us know about the strides forward in gender equality that you think deserve a mention!