Women Led 2017 From Google Doodles, The Law To Speaking Up. In 2017, there has not been a single field where women haven’t left their footprints. The year started on an ironic note with a Google doodle honouring social reformer, and the first women teacher of the first women school in India, Savitribai Phule, on her 186th birth anniversary on 3rd January. The doodle depicts Savitribai spreading her sari’s pallu to include women from all sections of the society to empower them. Silvy Kalra picks what’s made the last 12 months relevant and empowering for women.

In 2017, there has not been a single field where women haven’t left their footprints.

The mother of two children, mountaineer Anshu Jamsenpa broke all records as she became the first Indian woman to climb the peak of Mount Everest for the fourth time. This year not just gave India its first BSF woman field officer after 51 years, Tanushree Pareek, but also led to the initiation of the revolutionary #MeToo movement, which gave women all over the world, a platform to talk about sexual harassment.

Women and men from all walks of life spoke about how they were sexually abused in their professional and personal lives

TIME magazine
TIME Person of the year 2017 (Pic by chicago tribune)

Women and men from all walks of life spoke about how they were sexually abused in their professional and personal lives. It all started on 15th October when American actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, in response, to the sexual harassment scandal, against American producer, Harvey Weinstein. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd broke their silence and spoke against Weinstein. The year saw women breaking barriers and reporting cases of sexual harassment. Uber’s Travis Kalanick had to pen down his resignation after various allegations of sexual harassment against him. Even TVF co-founder and CEO Arunabh Kumar had to resign after a former employee accused him of sexual harassment.

Here’s what Vagabomb Editor, Shahana Yasmin, has to say about 2017,

“2017 was a significant year for women all over the world. While the West was reeling with women speaking up about abusive men in power, closer to home, women rallied together by saying #MeToo. This was the year women revealed how rampant sexual harassment is, and men actually listened instead of yelling #NotAllMen. And it didn’t stop there.”

With women setting trends and breaking silences, Merriam-Webster dictionary has aptly described ‘Feminism’ as the word of the year in 2017. Before we head on to 2018, which is the women empowerment year, let’s recall the achievements which has made 2017 a game-changer for women.

  • When Women Work as ‘the Hero’

Breaking stereotypes, 2017 was the year of women-centric films. With fantasy adventure ‘Wonder Woman’ acting as the trailblazer, women have been portrayed as powerful characters. Director Alankrita Srivastava’s film ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’ was a film that stood out from the rest. Four women from different walks of life set out to satisfy their desires, which a patriarchal society forbids them to pursue. The film kick started a different league of films, where women can be vocal about their desires.

Breaking stereotypes, 2017 was the year of women-centric films

In the film, Secret Superstar, Zaira Wasim, as the daughter, rescued her mother from the clutches of domestic violence. The film excelled both in storytelling and characterisation. Vidya Balan in ‘Tumhari Sulu’ was a pleasure to watch. Portraying the role of a homemaker, who works as an ‘RJ’ at night, Vidya Balan doesn’t quit her job despite familial restrictions. A simple story with a bold message!

  • Women in Sports

This year, women left no stone unturned to leave their mark in the field of sports. PV Sindhu bagged the maiden women’s singles title at the Syed Modi International Badminton championships. Adding to the accolades was Saina Nehwal. On 22nd January, she won the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold women’s singles title. Indian shot putter Manpreet Kaur bagged the number one spot in the world rankings on 24th April. Making India proud, she won a gold medal in the first leg of the Asian Grand Prix Athletics Meet in China.

The list doesn’t end there. On 12th July, Indian cricket team captain Mithali Raj broke boundaries by becoming the one and only female cricketer to cross the 6000 run target in ODI. To top it all, after 13 years, Indian women’s hockey team made the country proud by winning the Hockey Asia cup 2017. The team beat China 5-4 to bag the Hockey Asia cup 2017 title in Japan. The last time the Indian team had bagged the title was in 2004.

  • Women Lead 2017
Tanushree Pareek BSF
Tanushree Pareek BSF

BSF got its first woman field officer after 51 years. On 25th March, Tanushree Pareek, from Rajasthan, was felicitated at the BSF ceremony in MP. The achievements have just started. On 4th April, IPS officer Geeta Johri was selected as the first woman Director General of Police of Gujarat. Modi union cabinet appointed Nirmala Sitharaman as India’s first full-time Defence minister on 3rd September. She was the former minister of state (Independent charge) commerce. Indian women have proved their leadership skills, not just in India, but abroad too.

Nirupama Rao, who was a former Indian Ambassador, to the United States, was appointed as the public policy fellow to a top American think tank, in Washington, on 1st June. Dr. Soumya Swamanithan, who is currently the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research has been given the highest position held by an Indian in WHO. It has chosen Soumya Swaminathan as one of two deputy directors general on 5th October. 

  • Laws, Judgements, and Initiatives to Empower Women

On the International Women’s Day, Indian parliament passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016. Reports indicate that 1.8 million women working in the organized sector will get 26 weeks of maternity leave, as compared to the previous 12 weeks. After Rajya Sabha passed the amendment to the bill, the ministry of women and child development said, “It is a historic day for women. The bill will pave the way for a healthy and secure mother and a well-nourished child.” India bags the third position after Canada and Norway, which give 50 and 44 weeks of maternity leave.

On 5th May, the Supreme Court gave death sentence to the four convicts of the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case. Justice delayed but not denied! Here’s Advocate Sudha Ramalingam’s stance on how 2017 has been for women:

“Globally, 2017 has been a landmark year for bringing issues of sexism and sexual harassment to the forefront. Scores of women, young and old, came forward with their stories and have made this an important systemic concern that cannot be ignored. That said, we have a long way to go before women achieve equality and are able to enjoy personal freedom. Our lawmakers, courts and other institutions still do harbour patriarchal ideas and it is still a struggle to make women’s issues heard.  As far as India is concerned, a silent right that women have got is the right to obtain passports for their children without the signatures of their separated spouses. This gives women freedom to choose their place of living with their children in their custody.”

Navika Sagar Parikrama

Empowering women, Navika Sagar Parikrama is an initiative by the Indian navy wherein a team of women navy officers will navigate the entire globe on INSV Tarini. INSV Tarini is a sail boat built in India. With ‘Nari Shakti’ at the forefront, the project initiated in September 2017.

The all-women crew who will sail Tarini
The all-women crew who will sail Tarini (Pic Credit: India Today)

‘Women for Women Innovators, Social Leaders and Entrepreneurs (WISE)’

‘Women for Women Innovators, Social Leaders and Entrepreneurs (WISE)’ is a programme to support women entrepreneurs. This programme was launched by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. “We are delighted to work with an esteemed group of women leaders as part of this collaborative initiative in equipping women entrepreneurs with the skills and direction they need to drive India’s economy forward,” said Nisha Desai Biswal, president of USIBC.

Lok Sabha Passes the ‘Triple Talaq Bill’

Triple Talaq SheThePeople
Triple Talaq SheThePeople

2017 ends with Lok Sabha passing the ‘Triple Talaq Bill’ on 28th December. According to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill 2017, instant triple talaq is now a non-bailable warrant with imprisonment of up to three years in jail. Calling it a historic moment, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “To those who are objecting, I want to clarify this law is not about a prayer, faith or religion. This law is about justice for women and the dignity of women.” The bill now needs to be passed through Rajya Sabha. Aaj Tak Editor, Nishant Chaturvedi gives his stance on the bill, “I don’t understand why Muslim men have a problem with imprisonment of up to 3 years under the triple talaq bill. Now at least, any Muslim man will think 10 times before saying Talaq thrice. The revolution has started!”

2017 has been a phenomenal year for women and the achievements haven’t taken a halt yet. Cheers to all women! Brace yourself for 2018!

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