Thoughtful comment on gender and politics

2013: Top 10 steps in the right direction

As usual for this time of year the media is filled with round-ups of 2013. When it comes to feminist takes on the last year though, there have been a lot of blogs and articles focussing on the sexism that took place in 2013. It makes for shocking and depressing reading. So I thought I’d focus on the positive: who are the women and men, and what are the events that took place, particularly in the political sphere, that are worth celebrating?

1. Malala Yousafzai

No one can forget Malala Yousafzai standing up at the UN on her sixteenth birthday to call for universal access to education. It’s nineteen minutes long but it’s worth watching the video in full. That girl is pure courage and pure inspiration.

2. Caroline Lucas MP says ‘No more page three’

Caroline Lucas MP made an impassioned speech about violence against women and media sexism whilst wearing a ‘No more page three’ t-shirt. She was told to cover it up with her jacket because she was not conforming to Parliament’s dress code. She then whipped out a copy of the Sun, available across the Parliamentary Estate. It seems bare boobs are fine, t-shirts on the other hand…

Caroline, I’ll embroider the slogan on a suit jacket for you if you want to do it again. Go girl.

3. New Zealand legalises gay marriage

Two videos for the price of one!

This is a brilliant and hilarious speech from MP Maurice Williamson in favour of gay marriage.

For me the laughter turned to tears  watching this video, when the bill is passed. I defy anyone not to be moved when the singing starts – beautiful.

4. Woman’s Hour Power List

I’m a real fan of BBC Radio 4’s Power List, put together by the fabulous team at Woman’s Hour. All of the other ‘lists’ of women I’ve ever seen are titled ‘sexiest’, ‘hottest’ or ‘most beautiful’. This list is a celebration of powerful woman and I think that’s pretty radical.

5. A Girl Called Jack 

A Girl Called Jack has been writing for some time, but she’s really been recognised by the media this year. She’s a young single mum, who after losing her job, found herself having to feed herself and her son on £10 a week. She’s got a blog of budget recipes, but she’s also a vociferous campaigner on child poverty and hunger. She’ll be one to watch as in 2014 she’s bringing out a book and she’s got an advertising deal with Sainsbury’s.

6. Wendy Davis speaks for 13 hours to try and block a bill in Texas reducing access to abortion

Wendy Davis was fighting Senate Bill 5, which banned abortions after 20 weeks and forced the majority of abortion clinics in Texas to close. Sadly the bill passed later in the year, but Wendy has vowed to run for Governor and make overturning it a priority. Wendy, we’re right behind you.

7. Germany allows parents not to register a baby’s sex at birth

This was a major step forward for individuals who are intersex and I hope that other countries follow in Germany’s footsteps in 2014.

8. Australia’s Prime Minister defends marriage equality

Australia’s Prime Minister spoke out in favour of gay marriage, having previously been opposed to it. Politicians are usually lambasted when they change their mind, but I think this is one U-turn we can all applaud.

9. Facebook changed its policies on rape and domestic violence content 

A coalition of activists launched the social media #FBrape campaign to lobby Facebook to change its policies around content that glorified rape and domestic violence. See, YOU can change the world. Facebook invited Women Action Media (WAM!) and The Everyday Sexism Project to provide  input on how its new Community Standards should look.

10. The World Health Organisation recognises violence against women as a ‘global health problem of epidemic proportions’

Having the recognition of an internationally respected organisation made global headlines. WHO’s landmark report on violence against women drew on studies from around the world, and found that more than 1 in 3 women will experience violence during their lifetime.

I hope that some of these stories and the people behind them inspire you and give you hope for the year to come. Let me know what inspired you this year.

Happy 2014!

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