“The Personal is Political” was the clarion call for the Second Wave of Feminism in the 1970s. Almost half a decade down the line, this statement still holds true, infact, more than ever. The fight for gender equality, and particularly for women’s rights has been a long drawn one.
At this juncture, despite all the violence and discrimination faced by women across the world, there’s no denying the fact that there has been significant progress in the struggle to bring about empowerment of women.
Here’s looking at all the events from 2015 that were definite wins for the women empowerment movement across the world:
Communist Party of Nepal leader Bidhya Devi Bhandari, 54, created history by becoming Nepal’s first female president, winning a majority vote in Parliament.
In the conservative nation of Saudi Arabia, where women face rampant discrimination, and are banned from driving cars, for the first time in the country’s history, women were allowed to vote and take part in the municipal council elections. About 17 women won seats in the municipal council, becoming the first women councillors in the history of Saudi Arabia.
The 23rd Prime Minister and the second-youngest in the history of Canada, Justin Trudeau named a young and ethnically diverse cabinet- a ministerial team that for the first time in the country’s history is equally balanced between men and women. When asked why he chose to name a gender-balanced cabinet, he had the most epic response: “Because it’s 2015!”
For the first time in the history of space travel, Russia has sent an all female crew, consisting of 6 scientists, into a mock-up International Space Station, for a possible trip to the moon. This experiment seeks to understand if an all female crew communicates and responds differently from an all-male or a mixed crew.
Clearing the way for women to serve alongside men in combat arms units, the Pentagon chief announced that starting in January, all combat jobs will be open to women in the military in the United States. This decision seeks to lift all gender-based restrictions on military service and “to have access to every American who could add strength to the joint force”.
When Rescue 1122, a firefighting training organisation based out of Pakistan, opened a Women’s Department, 25-year-old Shazia Parveen jumped at the opportunity and went on to become the first female firefighter in the country.
In a historic decision this June, the Nigerian senate declared the gruesome act of ‘Female Genital Mutilation’ as a criminal offence.
With 1.2 million people voting in its favour, Ireland became the first country to officially passed the same-sex marriage referendum this May. Some 62% of the Irish Republic’s electorate voted in favour of gay marriage, becoming the first country to do so by popular vote.
The group of 20 men, associated with the Afghan Peace Volunteers, took to the streets of Kabul in March, ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8. Clad in head-to-toe burqas, these Afghan women marched with a vision to draw attention to the rights of women in Afghanistan.
President Yahya Jammeh announces that the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, that affects three-quarters of women in west African country is to be outlawed.
Marzieh Afkham becomes Iran’s first female Ambassador since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, as a part of the government’s initiative to create equal opportunities for women.
Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, for Boyhood, was all kinds of awesome as she talked about the need for wage equality in Hollywood and for equal rights for women in the United States.
In a historic triumph to the gay-rights movement in the US, the Supreme Court laid down in June that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, making gay marriage legal in all 50 states.
Viola Davis, after becoming the first African-American to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama, for her role in How To Get Away With Murder, addressed the problem of discrimination that women of colour have to deal with on a daily basis in her powerful Emmy acceptance speech.
The much awaited seventh edition of Star Wars, The Force Awakens sees a prominent female protagonist, who is a badass feminist. Rey Solo is the strong female lead the franchise has been lacking in the past.
No, she won’t call you on your cellphone no more. ‘Cuz she’s a feisty, badass bitch and she ain’t gonna wait around for you to show up at your convenience. She’s going to put on those killer heels, and go around town, heck, even the whole wide world to go get what she wants. Big shout out to Drake for bringing to light the reality of the modern millennial woman.
Popular celebrity porn actor, James Deen was accused of rape by his ex-girlfriend and adult performer, Stoya. Six other women, Deen’s co-workers and adult performers themselves came forth with their stories of assault by the same man, who has had a spotless image of being the face of feminism in the porn industry. This brought to light and sparked a pertinent debate surrounding the rights of sex workers and the importance of consent.
Caitlyn Jenner, born as William Bruce Jenner was a successful Olympian and internet phenomenon Kim Kardashian’s step father. In an extremely courageous move, Caitlyn Jenner owned her identity as a woman, coming out to the world in her iconic Vanity Fair Cover, urging the world to “Call me Caitlyn.”