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A Wishlist for 2016

There’s a lot we hope for every New Year. Good health. Thinner waists. Fatter paycheques. This year, Girls’ Globe is hoping 2016 brings us significantly more. As a group, we travelled to Mexico City and New York. We were fuelled by the tireless work of grassroots organizations, multinational corporations and brave, fearless women on the ground. In light of what we’ve seen, what’s powered us and pained us, here’s a few of the things we hope for after December 31st.

1. Better representation of women in media & pop culture.

In light of all the pressing and painful issues women around the world face, women in popular culture may seem somewhat trivial. However, in a world where television and movies dominate enormous screens in Hollywood and infiltrate small television sets in rural villages, the potential for media to influence perception is greater than ever.

A better representation of women goes beyond a move away from an unhealthy ideal body or face. It also extends to showing women as full, complex and capable characters.

From fictional characters like Jessica Jones to the rising prominence of actresses and writers like Tina Fey and Jennifer Lawrence, women who are openly flawed are nonetheless seen as loveable, capable and brilliant. This is an important change, one that we should hope gains even more momentum in the coming year; the more women make headlines for their grit, talent, intelligence or empathy, the more they’ll be lauded for it in real life.

2. Equal rights in the workplace.

Gender Wage Gap

Data Source: OCED

Equal pay is an issue worldwide, at every level. Exacerbating the problem is disparities between career track, social status, race, language and even gaps between childless women and mothers.

We hear many complaints in the educated workforce of unequal pay in boardrooms and university offices, but it is important to keep in mind that it exists in a real and far more desperate way in lower income jobs. Rallying for wage equality is inextricably linked to fighting for gender equality, and closing the economic gap for everyone should be a priority in 2016.

Additionally, there is a little-discussed topic that makes and breaks the lives of women around the world every day. Whatever one’s stance on the morality of sex work, endangering women themselves is inarguably unacceptable. A lack of regulation regarding sex work means that the women involved (which can be borne of necessity rather than free will) face great danger. Working for low wages, with the constant threat of violence, no legal right to insist on safe practices and no recourse in the case of abuse.

Basic safety and humane treatment is the law in nearly every workplace: factories, construction sites and offices alike. It should be no different for sex workers simply because of the stigma surrounding their profession.

3. Greater awareness of gender based violence, on all levels.

Psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, painful traditional practices, child marriage, bride burning and even witch hunts are all very real dangers.

For gender-based violence to be eradicated, it must first be acknowledged, which is a far bigger ask than it appears. In many countries, women’s lower rank in society means that they are more often viewed as property than people, and it is a husband’s or family’s right to exploit, beat or trade her.

Thanks to concentrated efforts across cultures to make the plight of abused women real (few more powerful-or disturbing-as the Abused Goddesses campaign showing Indian deities cut and bruised, or Happily Never After, with Disney’s beloved princesses purpled and bleeding on posters), gender based violence is coming to the forefront as a modern day evil.

Continued effort across the board from public figures will eventually make the horror of gender based violence too palpable to ignore.

We’d be naive to believe that at the end of 2016, we won’t still be hoping for some, if not all of these things. But we can ask for greater cooperation in striking these from our global wishlist, for all the years to come.

Cover Photo Credit: Jeffery, Flickr Creative Commons

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