2016 was quite a year. Apart from robbing us of many of our childhood heroes (I miss you, Major Tom), it dealt us a few political blows, from the shock of Brexit to the bigger shock of the American election. It was also a year that tried to put the brakes on women’s progress in terms of gender equality.
The Nigerian Senate originally voted down a gender and equalities opportunities bill leading to a 5-month rework before it was given a second reading; The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report revealed that the UK had slipped to the bottom of the top twenty countries for gender equality, and in Turkey there was outrage at a government bill which critics claim would allow child sex offenders to escape justice.
There were, of course, some silver linings to the seemingly unlimited clouds; thousands of Saudis signed petitions and worked hard to stop male guardianship of women; National Geographic launched their first cover featuring a transgender child, 9-year-old Avery Jackson.
What headlines do I hope we will read in 2017? Here are but a few. Some may seem tongue-in-cheek but here’s hoping for some change to cheer about this coming year.
Men across the world finally stop telling women to smile
After realising that women in public spaces are not required to look happy and approachable all the time, men across the world realise that asking a woman whom they do not know to smile is not a compliment and could be construed as gender-based street harassment. They stop…and some of us smile! But only because we want to.
Courts of law unanimously agree that only yes means yes where it comes to consent
The protracted conversations around this topic (particularly in regards to women and drinking) detract from the cold hard facts. Silence doesn’t mean yes. Looking confused doesn’t mean yes. Being passed out definitely doesn’t mean yes. Only yes means yes.
Official inquiry raised into growing discrepancy between reported rapes and convictions
While figures indicate that the conviction rate for sexual offences was at its highest ever in the UK, the number of rapes in England and Wales recorded by the police has doubled in the past four years. Conviction figures have risen because more cases have been put forward.
It’s time that more women (and men) saw their attackers jailed and justice served.
MPs celebrate as the glass ceiling in politics officially shatters
The UK has a female Prime Minister. The Leader of the Scottish National Party is a woman and the leader of the Scottish Labour party is also a woman. Yay! Despite what you may think of their politics, women have made huge strides in visibility and power in the past few years. However, for this to truly trickle down we need public bodies to take gender equality seriously. They could start by addressing the issue of gender disparity on boards.
Britain holds vigil to commemorate abolishment of gender pay gap
Although the gender pay gap in the UK has been decreasing it would be wonderful to see this well and truly squished. We work as hard as men do so we should be paid the same salary for the same job. I’m not just talking about in Hollywood, I’m talking about in offices, schools, hospitals, and public services across the world. Plus more.
Planned Parenthood retains funding, continues to provide essential health services
Despite only a small percentage of their services being abortion-related, Republicans and Evangelicals alike have continually attacked Planned Parenthood. It’s no secret that the organisation is facing threats to funding. The reality is that around 1 in 5 American women visits a Planned Parenthood clinic in their lifetime to access preventive care, including pap smears, STI tests, and birth control. Planned Parenthood needs their funding and I truly hope it isn’t taken from them.
The Academy Award for Best Director goes to a woman
In 2009 Kathryn Bigelow won the Academy Award for Best Director. Since then a woman hasn’t even been nominated for Best Director. It would be nice to see 2017 be the year where female filmmakers receive the accolades they deserve. Not just in the US but globally. Where the Academy goes others tend to follow so the onus is a little on you this year, America…
Global shock as pigs seen flying
Donald Trump apologises to women the world over for his misogynistic opinions, he donates money towards helping Syrian refugees, and finally, finally stops tweeting.