As we commemorate Women’s Day and salute the strong spirit of women across the world, we share a few positive stories from all around the world.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he year that has gone by has been one where women have transcended their boundaries, broken the chains of a conservative and patriarchal social order, have left behind their comfort zones and made their voices heard in all walks of life. Women achievers across the globe successfully inspire us to carry on the spirit and discover our greatest strengths, they remind us of the enormous potential that lies within women and which despite centuries of discrimination, has refused to wither away. Every woman is a champion, a success story and a unique voice in her own right and we convey our salutes to the spirit of womanhood. On this special day, we commemorate the achievements of some iconic women across the globe, who walked out of their comfort zones, challenged the norms and made themselves heard in a hostile world. 2018 seemed to be a year that was especially fruitful for women’s rights. Let us look at some of these achievements.
Spain Appoints a Majority Women Parliament
It was the year 2018, when Spain appointed a majority-women cabinet. In June 2018, Spain’s newly appointed PM Pedro Sanchez created history by appointing a cabinet that composed of two thirds of women. This implied that out of the 17 appointees to the cabinet, 11 are women. Sanchez said that his aim was towards creating a gender just and egalitarian parliament. It must be recorded that only a couple of years ago, Spain’s parliament was one that had no women but today this radical transformation is truly worth adopting. Through this historic move, Spain left behind Sweden and France and became the country to have the largest representation of women in parliament in entire Europe. Ironically, even the US which projects itself as a nation that advocates women’s representation in all spheres of life, Donald Trump’s administration and his Cabinet are composed of twice as many men as there are women. There are 19 men and only 5 women. Women have been historically marginalised as far as representation in parliament is considered but when the nation like Spain sets such a wonderful example, surely many nations of the world will draw inspiration from it.
Saudi Arabia: Women Free to Drive, Finally!
Last summer, women in Saudi Arabia finally got the right to drive. There was actually a ban in the nation for women driving but King Salman recently announced the lifting of this ban. The Gulf country finally let its women obtain legal driving licenses and take to the wheel. There was a nationwide moment of celebration as women in large numbers celebrated the granting of this independence. While several problems remain, giving women the right to drive will certainly give them more freedom for mobility and change their existence to a large degree. Let us remember that women in Saudi Arabia got the right to vote only in 2015.
Draconian Abortion Law Shunned in Ireland
The Constitutional abortion ban in Ireland was considered one of the intensely stringent practices in the world. It did not allow a woman to go for abortion at any cost and made no allowances even in case of rape of ailment. This meant that many women had to travel outside Ireland when they needed an abortion and if they could not afford this, they had to undergo the abortion through means that may put their lives at risk. For years, pro-abortion activists had fought for this right and after a referendum, on the amendment; the voters successfully struck it down. Beginning 2019, abortion services will be used in Ireland beginning 2019.
Women of Colour Have Arrived in the US- Midterm Election
When Donald Trump came to power he had no option but to present a more gender neutral and egalitarian impression of himself. He was targeted for being sexist and disrespectful towards women. To challenge this vicious commentary on his hostilities towards women, he allowed for a record number of female candidates to be elected to the House of Representatives from all across the country. Women of colour, especially made their presence felt in large numbers. In South Dacota, Kristi Noem became the state’s first female governor, in Vermot, Christine Hallquist became the first trans-woman to run for governor, Stacey Abrams was the first African-American woman nominee of a major political party etc. This is indeed a positive sign because more women in law making positions means that the legislations will impact many more women and their families. Women in America continue to fight for just representation and the 2018 mid-term elections were an important indicator of their successful trials.
Women in Iran Watched Football with Men in an Open Stadium, Finally!
After decades of struggle, women in Iran watched football for the first time in an open stadium. The ban that stops women from doing so is still in place but women in large numbers violated the ban and worked for their freedom in the right direction.
New Zealand Welcomes a Pregnant Prime Minister
Is being a mother necessarily in contradiction to becoming a prime minister? In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden became the second elected prime minister who is giving birth while in office. She is also the first elected leader ever to take maternity leave. It is a strong reply to all the sceptics who took it for granted that women cannot do multitasking.
India: the Breaking of Tradition
The MeToo Movement saw the unprecedented voices of women coming out of their comfort zones and speaking against sexual assault. Media, academics, advertising, corporate houses were all under the scrutiny of this heightened women’s awareness. The movement started the much required dialogue on women’s exploitation in the work sphere.
The year also marked the beginning of an on-going challenge to the historically upheld belief that women in the menstruating cycle could not enter the Sabrimala Temple in Kerala. The centuries old restriction was challenged by Kanaka Durga (39) and Bindu Ammini(40) who made history by entering the temple. In late September, 2018 the Supreme Court ruled against the ban but despite that women were guarded and not allowed to enter the temple by devotes and temple trustees. A massive protest erupted after the two women entered the shrine. The debate on the entry of women into the shrine continues to be contested terrain even till date but what these two women did will be remembered in history.
This is in no manner a collection of all the achievements that women have been credited with in the recent months, as this is an impossible task. Women in remote corners of the world are working towards making their dreams come true, are challenging draconian rituals, oppressive legislations and building a more gender-just world for the future generations. We salute the undying spirit of the world’s women!
The New Leam wishes all its readers a happy Women’s Day!