Looking back on 2017, we are reminded of the undeniable power of women’s movements—because when women and girls come together, they are stronger, more effective in driving sustainable change, and better able to resist injustice, fear, and hate. This article celebrates some of the best moments for Women’s Rights in 2017.
Government and policy-making still plays such an important role in women’s right to equality and the earlier conversations in the Women’s March and other conversations of getting to women in government has become that much more important. The following are some Global Fund for Women’s highlights for gender equality from the past year—including legal wins, major breakthroughs, and moments of resilience and strength. Let’s carry forward this inspiration into 2018 to make women’s movements more powerful than ever.
1. Rebuilding stronger after crisis, led by feminist movements
“There are women on the frontlines supporting rescue events, preparing food, distributing goods. The solidarity and mutual support is encouraging and is holding the city together in such harsh moments.” – Global Fund for Women grantee partner in Mexico City
In September 2017, Mexico was struck by what is believed to have been the country’s strongest earthquake in a century along the southern coast, leaving Oaxaca and Chiapas reeling. Two weeks later, a powerful quake left hundreds dead and a trail of destruction in Mexico City and beyond.
In the wake of this devastation, women’s leadership and resilience was on full display. Semillas, Mexico’s women’s fund which has been building a powerful movement of grassroots women’s groups across the country for 25 years, immediately began assessing the needs of women and girls. Semillas developed a reconstruction and rebuilding campaign, that women leaders throughout the country will work together to plan and implement, to address immediate and long-term needs, spearhead recovery, and rebuild Mexico in a more sustainable way.
2. Changing laws to advance women’s rights in the Middle East
In August, Lebanon’s Parliament repealed an archaic law that allowed men accused of rape to be exonerated and escape punishment if they married the individual they raped. This major legal win came just weeks after Jordan’s Parliament voted to revoke the same law. And Tunisia did the same in July, as part of a broad new law outlawing violence against women.
These major legal wins came after years of powerful advocacy and creative activism by women’s movements in the region. Global Fund for Women’s grantee partner Abaad, a women’s rights group with deep roots in Lebanon, hung bloodied wedding dresses in Beirut’s main promenade and put up billboards around the capital with a caption that read, in Arabic, “A white dress doesn’t cover up rape.” Abaad’s founder and director Ghida Anani told the New York Times of the legal change: “It’s the first step to changing the mind-set and traditions.”
Now, the women’s movements in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Jordan will continue their advocacy to ensure that these laws are effectively implemented and enforced.
3. Strengthening waves of young women leaders in South Asia. This year, we kicked off a new initiative focused on strengthening young women leaders in South Asia. Having learned from the amazing young women’s leadership initiatives created by our sister organizations around the world like the FRIDA Fund, we created the South Asia Young Women’s Leadership and Mentoring initiative—a three-year innovative initiative in collaboration with our partner organization CREA and funded by the Kendeda Fund—aiming to support and strengthen the leadership of 30 young women in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal across their organizations, communities, and movements. This summer, the young women leaders and mentors all met for the first time for a transformative week of learning and growth while overlooking the scenic mountains of Kathmandu, Nepal.
Coming together to #BuildMovementsNotWalls through Women’s Marches across the globe. On January 21, 2017, thousands of individuals committed to equality and human rights took to the streets in cities around the world for a Women’s March in a major global moment.
Folks mobilized to raise their voices on the issues most important to them including anti-discrimination, LGBTQI rights, reproductive rights, religious freedoms, refugee rights, and more. People everywhere responded to our call to Build Movements Not Walls, inspired by the resilience of women’s movements around the world and in response to the new U.S. administration’s direction on women’s rights. Throughout the year, we saw the resistance continue to grow responding to the rise of conservatism and harmful anti-woman policies in countless countries. Through global solidarity, advocacy, and activism, women’s movements continue to work toward a better tomorrow in the face of these obstacles.