The year 2017 started with and is ending with a focus on women. It is the year when women roared, marched, spoke up and ensured their voices were heard across the globe.
On January 1st, we woke up to the horrific news that hundreds of women and girls were molested by men in Bengaluru during the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Now we are ending the year on a very positive note with “Feminism” being identified as the Word of the Year by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary and the Silence Breakers who spoke out against sexual violence recognised as Person of the Year by Time Magazine.
Of course, there were many other important moments that put the spotlight on women’s issues. Let’s take a look at eight overall big moments:
- Donald Trump became President of the United States despite his opponent Hillary Clinton winning at least 2 million votes more than him and being the better qualified candidate for the job. He was voted into office despite his boasting on tape about “grabbing women by the pussy” and “you can do anything to them”. As president, not only does he not have a fair representation of women in his cabinet, his administration has cut a lot of funding to medical benefits that impact women, including reproductive rights which sends the wrong message to the rest of the world on the importance of these issues.
- As a protest of his Presidency and the politics of fear and inequality, millions of women in hundreds of cities around the world organised themselves to march in solidarity under the banner Women’s March. In the U.S., it was the largest protest in the country’s history. India joined too, on 21 Jan, as a protest for the Bengaluru assaults and in solidarity with women in other countries. Several marches were held under the banner #IWillGoOut.
- “Wonder Woman” the movie was a global blockbuster featuring a woman as a super hero. It addressed many stereotypes at different levels including having a woman as the centre of the story.
- In May, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences of four adults convicted in the Nirbhaya Rape Case. The Court said that the convicts had committed a “barbaric crime” which had “shaken society’s conscience”.
- Triple Talaq was declared unconstitutional by the Indian Supreme Court thus addressing the gender discrimination faced by Muslim women owing to “arbitrary divorce and second marriage of their husbands during the currency of their first marriage”.
- Last year the Indian Air Force inducted three women fighter pilots for the first time and this December, after completing strenuous training, they are all set to take to the skies. Their flying instructor confirmed that their performance was on par with the rest of their batch mates thereby validating that women can do as well as men in any job given the right opportunity, training and mentorship.
Their flying instructor confirmed that their performance was on par with the rest of their batch mates thereby validating that women can do as well as men in any job given the right opportunity
- The #MeToo social media campaign erupted in October when actress Alyssa Milano asked people to come forward and share their experiences of sexual harassment at work as a response to alleged harassment by media mogul Harvey Weinstein. Whilst the #MeToo hashtag was used earlier by Tarana Burke over 10 years ago, this time it went viral. Subsequently, we have seen hundreds of thousands of women come forward and share their stories of sexual abuse whilst many powerful men have been forced to resign and take accountability for their actions. These women, both named and unnamed, have been honoured by Time Magazine as Person of the Year for breaking the silence around sexual violence.
As we march into 2018, I would love for the conversations on gender equality and equity to continue- Elsamarie
- As the momentum for true equality and equity between the sexes increases, the gap in wages is constantly highlighted at every level and in every fora. There is a determined effort to ensure equal representation at the table and get rid of “Manels”. So, it is no surprise that Merriam Webster picked “feminism” over “complicit” as word of the year. It describes it as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organised activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”
As we march into 2018, I would love for the conversations on gender equality and equity to continue, more men to take a firm stand to end the discrimination and violence against women and more organisations to have equitable policies and a safe working environment.
Picture Credit: New York Mag