As 2015 comes to an end, it is important for us to take a closer look at the progress women’s rights and gender equality have made world over. There have obviously been some heart breaking lows like the recent Paris Agreement which says little on gender equality or how some Indian ministers perpetually provide unsolicited advice to women and men or looking at the sheer number of secular bloggers being murdered in Bangladesh.
— Feminism in India (@FeminismInIndia) November 20, 2015
Luckily, 2015 also included some great and noteworthy victories for gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights. Here are a few chosen moments of 2015 that will remind us how far we have come and how much further we have to go:
1. Female Genital Mutilation ban
Though the United Nations banned Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in 2012, many countries are yet to sign on and begin to ban it on their own lands. In 2015, many African countries like Nigeria and Gambia have spoken vocally about the ban on FGM. While reports say that upto 18 countries in African alone have banned the practice, it is still prevalent in many parts of the world. The ban is only the hopeful beginning.
— Senegal/Niger AIUSA (@NIGERAIUSA) October 30, 2015
Recently Indian women have spoken up about the practice in India. [If you would like to help, you could also sign this petition to help end FGM: https://www.change.org/p/end-female-genital-mutilation-in-india]
2. Viola Davis wins an Emmy
If you haven’t yet seen the acceptance speech Viola Davis gave on winning the Emmy, you have missed one of the most heart warming moments in 2015. Don’t worry, you can watch it here:
With this victory, she became the first black woman to win an Emmy and she didn’t forget to acknowledge all those that helped.
“The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
Just a few weeks ago, women of Saudi Arabia voted for the first time. Not just that, Saudia Arabia elected its first female politicians!
— هند الإرياني (@HindAleryani) December 13, 2015
Saudi Arabia is supposed to be the world’s last country to give women the right to vote. This right has been achieved after magnificent push from the women within the country. In this landmark election, reports show that more than 900 women ran for seats. They were up against nearly 6,000 men competing for places on 284 councils whose powers are restricted to local affairs including responsibility for streets, public gardens and rubbish collection.
In 2016, let’s watch how these women impact change from within the government.
4. Movement for fulfilling LGBT rights
The United States Supreme Court’s verdict on same-sex marriage was celebrated world over. Since love always wins, Supreme Court in its 5-4 ruling made it legal for same-sex marriages to take place anywhere in the country. The outpouring of solidarity was evident for days after with Facebook allowing everyone to have rainbow coloured display pictures. Similarly as Nepal makes history with its constitution, they guarantee equal rights to same-sex couples. Nepal is one of the most progressive countries in the South Asian region when it comes to upholding rights of LGBT persons. Though, the new constitution doesn’t speak explicitly about same-sex marriage, it guarantees protection and equality.
Trans rights also saw a major shift in 2015 with Caitlyn Jenner posing on the cover of Vanity Fair. Closer to home for me, India saw for the first time a trans mayor, principal and police officer!
— Amnesty UK LGBTI (@AmnestyUK_LGBTI) November 9, 2015
5. Because it’s 2015!
More often than not people in power resist embracing the label of feminist. But Justin Trudeau proved us wrong this year. Not only did he vocally call himself feminist but he also brushed aside a journalist who asked him why he emphasised on 50% women in his cabinet with the remarkable words: “Because, it is 2015!”
Additionally, as a bonus, I would like to leave you with a progressive judgment from India. After a long struggle, Indian Supreme Court ruled that an unwed mother can be sole guardian without father’s nod (if he had no role to play after birth). Earlier, the woman had to send a mandatory application to the father before she could apply for guardianship. Since the father as per the law was the natural guardian. In the ruling of ABC Vs. State of New Delhi, the court allowed for the woman to apply for guardianship and also directed that name of the father may not be made public and may also not be necessary for obtaining child’s birth certificate, passport and for school purposes. Though this is a limited ruling, it is wonderful progress for women’s rights in the country!
Featured image courtesy of Salma AlRashid, used with her permission.