It’s been a year since International Women’s Day 2017, and if we reminisce back to this time last year, we can remember the feeling of anticipation that big changes were coming to the women of the world. Trump had been inaugurated the previous January, and the world responded with unprecedented passion; millions of women and men around the world marched to have their voices heard and to speak out against injustices and inequalities. We weren’t to know that the marches were only the beginning; 2017 and the beginning of 2018 have seen seismic shifts and watershed moments in the way we view and talk about gender and equality, with movements like Me Too, Time’s Up and (closer to home) Repeal gaining massive traction and changing the landscape in many industries and social settings.
It was a year that will go down in women’s history. We’ve made great strides in the last 365 days and who knows where we’ll be on International Women’s Day 2019?
March: International Women’s Day 2017
Women took to the streets to celebrate the Day of the Woman this time last year, using it as an opportunity to march and call attention to a multitude of women’s issues. Violence against women in India, underemployment of women in Japan, lack of political representation in Lebanon and repealing the 8th amendment in Ireland were all headline news around the globe.
June: Wonder Woman Saves the Day
The eagerly-anticipated Wonder Woman hit cinemas around the world to a massive welcome. The movie, starring Gal Godot in the titular role, was the first live-action comic book movie to be directed by a woman and the fresh perspective paid off; Wonder Woman was a smash hit globally, and became something of a symbol of why we need more female representation in blockbuster movies.
July and August: ‘Marry-Your-Rapist’ Laws Abolished
During the summer, strides were made in some Middle Eastern and African countries towards better protection for women. The controversial laws in Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan, which stated that a rapist could be protected from punishment for the crime if he married his victim, were repealed, signalling a move towards change for victims of rape and assault.
September: Saudi Women Can Drive
In what may seem like a small victory but actually symbolises much bigger things, Saudi Arabia finally revoked its law that restricted women from driving in September 2017. The law had become a symbol of the oppressive elements of Saudi society; although they could work, Saudi women either had to rely on men to drive them to their places of work or spend a large portion of their salary on drivers. In 2015, Saudi women were granted the right to vote, but at the time many highlighted the irony that even though they could vote, they couldn’t drive themselves to the polling station to do so. The repeal of this law was a welcome step in the right direction for women’s equality in Saudi Arabia.
September: The 6th Annual March for Choice
The calls of ‘keep your rosaries off my ovaries’ will be ringing in our ears for months to come. For the sixth year in a row, thousands of Irish women took to the streets of Dublin to protest for a repeal of the 8th amendment of the constitution, which states an ‘equal right to life’ of both mother and baby, effectively outlawing abortion and restricting pregnant women and expectant mothers’ access to healthcare. 2017’s march signified the hopeful end of a long road, as it was expected to be the last march before a referendum to repeal the amendment.
It all started with Weinstein. Last Autumn, the entertainment industry was left reeling with the emergence of hundreds of allegations of assault, harassment and rape against movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein. The allegations sparked an international movement to uncover instances of harassment and assault against women and men, and the hashtag #MeToo spread virally across social media, as people went online to share their personal stories. Since the movement began, celebrities such as Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K and U.S President Donald Trump have been accused of varying levels of sexual misconduct. The impact of the movement cannot be over-stated, as women around the world have been encouraged to share their stories and men have been forced to confront damaging behaviours.
On the first day of the new year, a new movement was announced. Time’s Up vowed to address sexual harassment, pay inequality and abuse of power against women in the workplace, in response to the Weinstein allegations and the subsequent outcry against working conditions for women in the entertainment industry. What followed was worldwide support of the movement; female and male celebrities spent the Awards Season that followed almost exclusively dressing in black as a symbol of support for #TimesUp, while using their speeches and presentation opportunities to encourage their colleagues to follow suit and to praise the women present for their contribution to the movement.
January: Iceland Leads The Way
Following an announcement of their plans in 2017, Iceland set an example to governments everywhere in January by becoming the first country in the world to compel companies to prove that they are not paying women less money for doing the same jobs as men; in effect, making paying women less money for the same job illegal.
January: Repeal Referendum Confirmed
After decades of protests and cries for change, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced at the end of last month that a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment would take place in May of this year. The wording of the referendum is still unconfirmed, along with a specific date to vote.